Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Connecting Students Through Blogging

Part of the series: Teaching In A Connected Classroom (cross-posted for Eduro Learning)

A great way to start connecting your students to each other and to others outside the classroom at the start of a new year is to begin blogging. Not only can blogging give students a voice, but it also has the potential to change the way they write.

Over the years I’ve discovered through my own trials and those of teachers I’ve been fortunate to work closely with, ten tips that may help get blogging starting in your classroom and keep it sustainable throughout the year. Most apply to individual blogs with your students and/or blogging together with students on a Class Blog.

#1  Decide on your why (the purpose)

It’s important to know why you want a class blog or why you want students to have their own blogs.  When we know the why (to anything), it’s so much easier to make decisions about what and what not to do, and it will be much easier to get students excited about blogging with the goal of sustainability.  Don’t move onto the how, until you know the why! (It comes in handy for #3)

#2  Pick your platform

This one might end up being entirely up to you or you may not have much of a choice.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work at schools that hosted WordPress on their own servers.  When I first started out with a class blog, however, I used EduBlogs (free version), and then WordPress (free version) when my students began blogging individually.  There are other alternatives out there such as Kidblog or Weebly which many teachers use with great success.

#3  Obtain permissions

In order to receive support from all stakeholders, you need to check in with those around you. Principals, Tech Coach/Co-ordinators, and of course your parents.  It’s important to be ready to explain what you are doing and why (refer #1).  I shared a blogging/podcasting contract with my parents and also held a parents meeting so that any questions/concerns could be asked and answered.  To date, I’ve not had any parents say No to their child blogging and I’m sure it’s because of #1, knowing the why and because of the transparency of what we were trying to achieve with blogging.

#4  Teach Quality Blogging

This will always be one of my many favourite sessions with student bloggers and they go hand-in-hand with our Digital Literacy Unit for the start of the year. Our Guiding Question:   What makes a quality post? springboards us into blogging and helps students think about the similarities and differences between blogging and writing. We revisit this topic many times during the year and aim to deepen the quality of blog posts through a “writing reflectively” lens.

#5  Discuss Citizenship – all.the.time

Before we even begin blogging, we look at and discuss safety online and citizenship – what does it mean to be responsible and appropriate? This is part of a bigger discussion that covers not only online behaviour but offline behaviour.  It just so happens that it’s not just those that are specific to blogging – and it’s like quality blogging & commenting – an all-the-time discussion.

#6  Teach commenting

Teaching your students to properly comment is just as important, if not more important as teaching your students about writing quality blog posts.

As Pernille Ripp, from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, mentions …

In order for blogging to be effective, comments are needed, but if students don’t know how to properly comment they will lose out on part of the experience. We discuss how to thank people, how to answer their questions, and most importantly, how to ask questions back. This is all part of common conversational knowledge that all kids should be taught any way.

#7  Start small

Everybody starts somewhere right? Whether you start out with a class blog first, or dive head first into students having their own blog.  Be realistic about how much you want to be posting.  We always started with an introduction post of some sort like this one or this one (which was fun and really encouraged comments).  At first, we posted to our blogs once a week.  It was regular and it was consistent – both of these things are important when you’re building an audience. (See #8)

#8  Connect with others

There is no doubt that the global connections made with students from all over the world are what inspired and encouraged my students to keep blogging.  Reach out to a colleague at another school and ask if their students can read and comment on your blogs – maybe they are blogging too and you can help motivate them too! Have a go at QuadBlogging or use twitter to help you and your students connect to others.  Keep a flag counter in your sidebar to help keep visitors to your blog (and your students’ blogs) visible and motivating!

#9  Allow personalisation (making it their own)

All students love to explore their blogs, playing with themes, colour and font!  This makes for a really great lesson on Design when they teach each other how to do anything fancy and also let each other know when font or colour choices were poor. It’s a perfect opportunity for students to start thinking about creating their online identity too. (Don’t forget to teach your students about Creative Commons and giving attribution for images they use in their blog posts! – see #5)

#10  Give it time

Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither will your blog content or your blog audience!  It’s an on-going process that can at times seem more trouble than it’s worth, but at the same time be so beneficial for students – especially those students who’s voices can be hard to hear above others.  Stick with it, even when the going gets tough and time pressures seem overwhelming against you.  It’s worth the effort, honest!

Helpful Resources

Already blogging with your students?

What tips and/or recommendations do you have?  Please share in the comments below!

Classroom Blogging Making it Sustainable

One of the reasons I was fortunate enough to be invited to the JIS Technology Learning Institute at the beginning of August, was because I blog with students – not just my own anymore, but with students right through our Elementary School now in my role as ES Technology & Learning Coach.

Below is the Keynote from the first Blogging Session – How To Get Started that I did with JIS Faculty – unfortunately their blogging platform was not ready – so I did a lot of the talking. Good questions were asked and I hope I answered most of them – especially about why Blogging in the Classroom can be so rewarding for students (and for the teacher – after the initial hard work!).

Blogging in the Classroom: Getting Started

Key Points Covered

  1. Class or individual blogs;
  2. Rules and Guidelines;
  3. Motivation;
  4. Blogroll;
  5. Sidebar Widgets;
  6. Posts vs Pages;
  7. Effective and engaging posts;
  8. Connect with others;
  9. RSS Feeds;
  10. Creative Commons;
  11. Media file storage;
  12. Useful links.

I also hoped to do another session with the JIS faculty – Blogging – Making it Sustainable! But as with these things, we ran out of time. I’ve embedded it below for your convenience.

Classroom Blogging – Making it Sustainable

Key Points

  1. Let the students own it;
  2. Use a variety of media;
  3. Be open and forge connections;
  4. Join a blogging challenge;
  5. Comment regularly;
  6. Get parents/families involved.

Helpful Resources




Special thanks

Special thanks needs to go out to my twitter PLN mates for their super ideas on sustaining blogging in the classroom – @dakinane @heymilly @lenva @pam_thompson @allanahk @glassbeed – you guys are awesome and of course you had to be included in the credits!

Cross-posted here on the Technology & Learning Blog;  Originally written in 2011; Updated in 2017

Writing More Reflectively

Writing More Reflectively

Writing more reflectively is hard! We are trying to encourage our students to use their blogs to write more reflectively, especially as we lean more and more towards using the blogging platform as a suitable “container” for ePortfolios.  Below is a post that we’re sharing with our G4 and G5 student bloggers.

Writing More Reflectively

Not sure what to write for a reflection post? Here’s a few questions you could ask yourself to help you get started! Some are more suited to Writer’s Workshop or Reader’s Workshop reflections. Some are suitable for Science, Social Studies or Math reflections. Choose the ones that work best for what you would like to say about your learning.


  • What did you do well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • If you could do this again, what would you do differently?
  • How could you improve your work next time?
  • Is what you are currently reading/viewing or studying challenging you in any way? In what way?
  • What is puzzling you as you are reading at present? (About the author, characters, ideas etc.)
  • What specific questions are being raised by what you are reading?
  • Can you make any connections between what you are reading/viewing and everyday life, history, situations in the world, any other subject you are studying or your own life?
  • Write down 3 questions you have for an author of a text you are reading/viewing/studying at present. Explain why you have asked those questions.
  • What are you learning about yourself from what you are reading/viewing/studying? (Your own values, attitudes and beliefs)

Instead of a question, you could try some of these sentence starters:


  • This week I learned …
  • What I have found difficult about what I have read/viewed/heard this week is …
  • My writing and reading skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)
  • My listening and speaking skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)

Or you could try this format – What? So What? Now What?: (adapted from Service Learning)

What happened?
What did you observe?

So What?
Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
Did you hear, smell, or feel anything that surprised you?
How is your experience different from what you expected?
What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
What did you like/dislike about the experience?

Now What?
What seemed to be the root causes of the issues you experienced? OR  What seemed to be the root causes of the issue addressed in this project/learning?
What other work are you doing to help address the difficulties you experienced? OR What other work is currently happening to address the issue?
What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning?
What would you like to learn more about, related to this project/piece of learning?
What follow up is needed to address any challenges or difficulties you had with this project/learning?
What information can you share with your peers/teachers/family?
If you could do the project/learning again, what would you do differently?

These questions/sentence starters are just a guide to help you get started.

What do you think?

I’d like to adapt this for our G3 student bloggers as well.  What do you think? What’s missing? What would you add or change?

Note: Original post written in 2010; Updated 2011/05; Updated and Revised 2017/12; Cross-posted on the Technology and Learning Blog.

And The Curtain Comes Down

This post is written with a mix of sadness and excitement. Flickr Photo Download: Down in Front

It is with sadness that I say goodbye to Edublogs but it is with excitement that I announce I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought my own domain name and am hosting my own blog using BlueHost and WordPress.

James Farmer and Sue Waters – you are two of the most generous, helpful and amazing people I have ever met in the blogosphere.  You both are so generous with your time, your resources and your knowledge.  Thanks to you both, I’ve not only been able to blog, but also I’ve been able to improve my blogging skills.

And of course to you, my faithfully readers, I extend my thanks.  Thanks for dropping by to read my “goings on”.  Thanks for all your comments and encouragement.

I’m hoping of course (fingers crossed) that you’ll update your RSS reader with the feed from my new blog.

Image Attribution:

Category Clean Up

I’ve been meaning to do this “job” for a while now – and 7 weeks 3 weeks left of summer vacation means I just cannot make excuses any longer – I need to get it done!file cabinet to heaven on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

My categories on edublogger have just got outta control!  In the early times of my blogging attempts I really had no idea about the difference between categories and tags – I used to think they were actually the same things (and if you use blogger – there’s no categories, only labels – which I am guessing are the same as tags).

Hence this blog’s categories have spiraled out of control and are in need of a tidy up.  I’ve checked with edublogs guru extraordinaire Sue Waters to make sure that cleaning up my categories won’t make all my posts coming through anyone’s RSS reader again – I hate for you all to be subjected to all my early writing again!!  If by chance that does happen – my sincere apologies to you in advance!

So when I’m done, hopefully it will be easier for anyone to find “stuff” (aka: I’ll be able to find stuff more easily).

I’ve decided to categorise all blog posts with either Tools, Resources, Conferences, Collaboration, Classroom or Blogging (for now).

What categories do you use?

Image Attribution: file cabinet to heaven by t.magnum

Guilt Upon Accusation

I’ve just become aware about some major proposed changes in NZ law that will have a huge impact on artists, businesses, and general members of the public: basically anyone that uses the internet, and I thought you should know about them.
The Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act assumes Guilt Upon Accusation and forces the termination of internet connections and websites without evidence, without a fair trial, and without punishment for any false accusations of copyright infringement. We should speak out against injustices like Guilt Upon Accusation being done in the name of artists and protecting creativity.
The countdown is on: we have until 28 February 2009 to influence government.
An organisation called the Creative Freedom Foundation has been set up to specifically represent artists voices on these issues. Check out their website: , sign up and help our MPs make an informed decision about S92!