student blogging

The Power of Student Blogging

Hope is in the air as the middle students query, “Do we get to work on our blogs?” They are anticipatorily at attention sitting on the edge of their seats with their computers ready to open if I give the “OK”.  I had planned some blogging time towards the end of the lesson but they are just so ready NOW that I alter my plans.

One student is literally bouncing up and down in his chair with excitement.  “THREE people have viewed my blog!”   Other students immediately check their statuses as well.  “Can anyone in the world see our blogs?”  “How many followers will we get?”  The eagerness is palpable. 

They are incredibly focused as they ponder the aspects of global warming that interest them.  They are thoughtful and careful as they attempt to put their reflections into the written word.  Web sites are consulted, images are uploaded, and miraculously, everything is properly annotated with resources.  The quality of work these 11-12 years olds is producing is quite impressive.  They are invested.  It is their voice.

One student wrote, “ I have been asked to consider three effects of global warming that I’d like to do more research on.  This meant for me to think out of the box and do a lot of research on the topic.  I feel like all of my posts should be providing new information at all times.” Over and over I have been surprised by the ambitious approach students have taken with regard to their blogging. 

Using blogs as a method for students to communicate learning and reflection has so far proven to be a far more powerful tool than we originally expected.  My colleague and I initially thought the blogs would center on the progress of each student’s science fair project.  However, the blogs rapidly expanded to become regular forums documenting the progress of learning in all aspects of our classrooms. 

I encourage giving students voice in their own learning.  It empowers them.  It makes them accountable.  It engages them. Plus, it simply energizes the classroom and the learning experience.

Student Blogging, Community, and Unexpected Results

All of my research on student blogging inspired me to insist that students read each other’s blogs and comment on them with the intent of generating discussion.  What a fascinating reaction ensued.

There are the students who had eagerly tackled their blog assignments with thorough reflections and embedded photos, videos, and hyperlinks.  They enthusiastically logged on to their computers to peruse the other blogs and make comments.  They are asking for ideas on questions and thoughts that might generate discussion.  “Can we add additional links within our comments” one student asks.  A teacher’s dream is unfolding as students come up with bigger and better ideas than I had originally envisioned for the blogging experience.

One teenage boy slowly morphs from his usual slumped posture, chin in hands, dulled and bored expression to an erect position with fingers tense on the keyboard and eyes glancing around at the other screens.  He is a minimalist.  His post barely addressed the prompts.  No photos.  No extras. No links.  The absolute minimum.  However, as he comprehended the fact that someone was going to be evaluating and commenting on his blog, he became very alert and queried, “Can we still edit our own blog post?”

“Of course” I coolly respond.  Inwardly I’m rejoicing (and performing summersaults) at the thought of this minimalist wanting to improve his post. 

The last ten minutes of classroom dedicated allowing the students to reflect and comment on another’s post fills the air energy.  The bell rings for lunch and no one moves.  Almost reluctantly they stop what they’re doing, pack up and head for the door.  Several say “thank you” as they exit.  I’m thinking, “Student Blogging: Best Idea Ever”

Student Blogging and Scoring Points

So, for our Science Fair project this year we’ve decided to have students blog about their progress and what they are learning. I spent a ridiculous amount of time searching different ways to incorporate students’ blogging into the classroom.  I perused blogging rubrics ad nauseam.  I read countless reviews of different blogging sites and I searched every possible free blogging site. 

Finally, I settled on using, especially since all of my students have Google accounts and I can easily link each student’s blog site to my web site.  Knowing my time was limited in the classroom as far as helping the students set up their blog sites and posting a first blog, I decided to do a screen share podcast to explain everything to them.  Hahaha – well, several hours later I had a 3-minute screen shared podcast on setting up the blog site and 2-minute one on posting the first blog. 

Following the Chasing Ice movie, I explained the plan with blogging to the students.  They seemed remotely interested.  Then I referred them to my web site for the podcasts on setting up the blog.    With the remaining minute of class a few of the students checked to make sure they could view the videos.  One exclaimed, “Did you make this yourself?”  When I answered in the affirmative their faces lit up with huge smiles, “That’s cool”, they said.  It was clear that they felt honored because I had created a podcast for them.  My attempt to be tech-savvy apparently scored some points with my students.

Tonight, after a long day I decided, with scepticism, to take a look at the web sites and the students' first blog posts.  I am SO IMPRESSED!  It is always amazing how quickly students latch onto a media that will give them voice. The sites are already personalized in appearance and the blog posts are full of detailed reflection, imbedded photos and video clips (all properly referenced!), and are generally interesting and creative.  I suddenly am really looking forward to perusing their posts as they get underway with their science fair projects!