Friday, April 19, 2013

Walking a path to successful blogging.

I am not an expert blogger, I'm just guy livin' the dream!

Blogging is truly an amazing thing.  I have read amazing posts from outstanding educators all over the world.  Some have shared personal strife and some have shared colleagues dreams!  Some have shared frustrations and some have shared how to do something.

I have personally become a better person and educator because of blogging.

I am not a seasoned blogger, I am not claiming to be some kind of expert,  I do not worry about whether or not my grammar is perfect or my sentence structure is like my high school English teacher drilled into me because it's not necessarily about that.  As an instructional technology trainer who works with administrators, teachers, and students, I often talk to teachers and admin about blogging as a way to create a digital presence.  It is a place for them to share the great things happening in their classrooms or schools.  More importantly, perhaps it can become a place they can reflect on a lesson, unit, or an idea.  Blogging can become a perfect place for reflection to happen.

Blogging can be, but doesn't have to be about conversations.  The post itself can become a place where others post comments to your post and a conversation begins, but this is where I think you can make it however you want to make it.  If you just reflect and not a single person posts a comment, so what! There is no exact way of how it is supposed to be done or what the end product should be.  It should be about you and for you!

In my experience I have sometimes blogged about my family within my professional blog.  I think this is ok because I feel like it may paint a better picture of me as a whole person.  Family is a very important part of who I am and sometimes sharing that piece of me as a professional is ok in my opinion.  I believe there is no one size fits all in blogging.

The reflection piece of blogging for the individual is invaluable.  Perhaps the most important thing to me is that maybe I will hit someone with a post, maybe someone will be inspired, maybe someone will be interested in trying what I write about, or maybe we will engage in a conversation that will make me a better person or educator.  That post might be about my family or it might be about an idea I want to share for your classroom.  The point is -just blog!  

Let's focus on kid's blogging now.  Wow!  I get so excited about the possibilities for kid's blogging.
Let me focus on young gentlemen for a moment if I may.  As a male, writing was not my favorite thing to do as a kid, particularly in grade school.  I would rather be playing kickball at recess or go to PE.  Writing for me was like pulling teeth.  In my 15 years in education the majority of young men that love to write is minimal compared to the young girls.

This is where the magic comes in.

As Bruno Mars sang "I got the Magic in me." Blogging can become Magic for kids when responses come from all over the world and you provide them an authentic audience to their work!
How do you do this you might ask?

The answer is you as an educator have to be using Twitter.  Yep twitter.  

If you connect yourself as an educator via twitter and use the hashtag #comments4kids the sky is the limit.  Twitter becomes the place where you as the teacher share the posts from the kids in your classroom thus opening up the door to a world wide audience for them.  This will get those reluctant writers writing, especially boys!

The posts the kids create do not have to be all about writing either.  They can be links to screencasts, Puppet Pal shows via an iPad, movies they have created, pictures of a field trip, audio clips, or anything else you can link up in a post!

Start blogging in Kindergarten!  It can be done, don't tell me it can't.  Get on twitter, get yourself connected and find out for yourself.  I am so impressed with kindergarten teachers classrooms that I follow on twitter because I see the amazing things these teachers are doing blogging with little K kids!
The power in which an authentic audience reads a post from a kid and gives him or her feedback is wonderful!  I have personally seen the effects of kids receiving comments and being so excited to write or share something on their blog because of it!

I highly recommend using for K-8. It gives you and the kids a safe, comfortable, customizable environment to blog.  High school and perhaps even middle school kids could use blogger, edublogs, or Wordpress.  I have seen it successfully done using all of those platforms.

Recently, a teacher I am working with and I collaborated to have the kids write about our great state of Nebraska!  They are 4th graders and we blog at and they are studying Nebraska history so we decided to have them write about what they were learning, but better yet, we are using to connect with two other educators and their classrooms in California and New York.  The 2nd/3rd graders in California and 5th graders in New York will be writing about their states and then we are going to have all the kids read each others posts and comment to each other.  Then after that we will take it up one more level by having a Google Plus EDU Hangout together at the same time with the three classes from one coast to the other!

It should be a great experience for them and yet another thing we can have the kids blog about thereafter.  Blogging is easy and it works on so many skills, but at the end of the day it's a place to share, learn, and perhaps make yourself better.  Whether you are in Kindergarten or my age. (Getting old)

So make it happen.  Why not?


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  2. I think blogging is a great way to reflect on what you are doing in your classroom! Taking the time to sit down and think about what you did and what you could do better is an important part of our job as educators! When others read the blog hopefully they will comment and suggest something that worked for them. Blogging can be a great way to make connections and learn for other educators from all over the world! As you mentioned, students in Mrs. Geldes’ class were blogging ( ) and people from all over were adding comments! Then they mapped out the places people were from! What a great way to integrate Social Studies into blogging. For me, it is important that I give kids the opportunity to explore the world of blogging as well as provide myself opportunities to find educational blogs that will help me to become a better educator! I also NEVER thought I would join Twitter, but I did (@manning0812) and I LOVE it! There are so many educators that I have learned so much from and have provided me with resources that I can use in my classroom! I am thinking about creating a class Twitter account!!

  3. Enjoyed reading your post about Blogging. Thank you for introducing it to my students and I. Blogging has brought the world to our classroom and has given my students a platform to share their learning. They loved doing the Google Hangout with the classrooms from California and New York. It was an amazing experience for all of the students involved. They were able to learn more about where each state/region and had many questions. Once the Hangout was over, my students were anxious to do it again.
    Without blogging and twitter, these experiences wouldn't have been possible. I believe that blogging has made my students more willing to write, and with that willingness comes better writing. Thank you again for helping me introduce blogging to my students. My goal for this upcoming school year is to keep my personal and classroom blog up to date on a weekly or biweekly basis. Wish me luck!

  4. Nice post! I agreed with everything you said, but a couple things really stood out. You mentioned blogging "should be about you and for you." I totally agree. I think blogging is like an online diary. If nobody reads my blog, that's okay. At least I put it out there. Also, I agree that blogging can be inspiring to others.

    My son has used kidblog at his school in Papillion. He liked it when they were using it in the classroom. I agree that it's hard to get boys writing, and this might be a way to do it.

    As for Twitter, will Twitter ever be unlocked for us to use at school?

  5. I, too, was really struck by your comment about blogging being about you and for you...that it doesn't matter if anyone comments or not. I have been trying to make my blog more personal than professional lately. And some small part of me thought, maybe if I can "put myself/my writing out there, I will be a published author someday! I have a few friends who have those same thoughts. I realize now that it doesn't really matter at all; that it can and probably will end up like a digital journaling process for me instead. I would love to use Twitter and Blogger with my 8th graders in the coming school year. I have had my "advanced readers" in 7th grade create blogs in the past. Computer lab time is going to be an issue, I'm afraid! But I won't let that stop me from trying!!

  6. It's good to read about making the blogs personal. I have hesitated to continue a couple of blogs I started for other classes in the past partly because I wasn't sure I had anything to write about; it's good to be reaffirmed that it's okay to write about anything I want to. I like that you also include your family life in your blogs. I already have Twitter, but I need to learn to use it more educationally. I would say that Twitter is the most common social medium nowadays for high schoolers. Many do it constantly. We probably could use a Smartphone class as well as the ones already offered for us as they aren't limited in their Twitter access at school when they have them.

    As a side note, I have started a blog for a committee I co-chair at church, and we are trying to learn the best ways to get people involved in church blogging as well.

    Kathy Liebenguth

  7. The sentence that caught my attention on this is that blogs should be about conversations! I am looking to use a blog in my classroom next year and I can't wait to use it to spark discussions on-line that we can finish/continue in class. Like Kathy I am also just creeping into the world of Twitter, and I find that as an educational tool as well...Like I have said before in another post, I am not sure how to use both Twitter and my Blog in my class...there are so many possibilities! ?Copy a tweet on my blog and have students discuss more in depth?

  8. I have found that Blogging is a great way to have access to more teachers and brilliant ideas around the world. Other great blogs can be brought into the classroom to enhance a lesson. Some blogs have video links to help with a topic. Plus, from the teacher perspective it's a nice way to connect to teachers in other districts and share ideas...what worked, what didn't. Depending on the class set up, blogs could be a great way to add to class discussions. Kids also might find it interesting that some books, started as blogs. :)

  9. I can't wait to start all this in the fall! Its exciting to use all this technology to increase learning potential. Maybe I can even get them to start thinking about class when they are not in class. I used Twitter to keep a record of our mock trails this and last year. I had to many positive comments from observers who followed us. The students were amazing someone cares what we were doing in class. Some of my old students (familiar with the infamous mock trials I have) even offered advise to one side or the other. A bridge between the years.

  10. There are so many ways to use blogs both personally and professionally, but your post really drove home to me how important reflection is in our daily lives. Most of us are used to the private versions of reflection like journaling, but blogging brings our reflection out into the public, where we can be an inspiration to others or inspired by their insightful comments and unique perspectives. This is an invaluable skill to share with our students, and I absolutely agree that blogging belongs in all of our classrooms.

  11. I loved the idea of using Twitter to get people to comment from all over the world. I'm thinking this would be a great way to do some primary research or get feedback on their senior papers for this year, and potentially, their senior capstone projects in the future. I follow several blogs that are about home decorating and cooking and one of things that has struck me over the course of the year is that everyone needs a place for their voice to be heard. As you said, it's a conversation. We're all looking to connect. Our students are no different. Technology often gets a bad rap for "dummying down" our writing or losing a lost art or something. The idea of blogging is really bringing back the idea of written communication. Now, instead of just leaving it in a journal for ourselves or sending one letter to a friend, we've opened up to share our ideas with the world. We're missing an incredible opportunity if we don't start using all that's available with our students.