1. Decide how
There are lots of sites that are aimed at education; check out Primary Blogger and Kidblog. Of course you can set up your own blogs via usual sites such as Blogger and WordPress. After speaking to, and looking at, many other blogs, we opted to work with Creative Blogs to manage the multi-site aspect, as well as any technical issues.
2. Introduce to the children
We showed the children our blog and explained what we’d use it for. To start with, it was just the teacher adding updates and pieces of work, but I believe this should change quite soon into the process so as to give your children ownership of the blog. When introducing, it is a good idea to agree rules with the children about commenting and blogging.
3. Comment together
This can be done together when you have 5 minutes spare, and is a good way to model how to comment to the children. I did this with my class then emailed them a selection of blogs to look at and comment on themselves.
4. Promote yourself!
Twitter is a wonderful tool. By setting up your own class account, you can add hashtags to promote your blog and new posts by your children. #classblogs #ukedchat #comments4kids are but three to use!
5. Visit other blogs
This is by far the best way of creating networks. Children and their teachers value the time you have taken to visit their blogs (as in point 3), and will more often than not return the favour. We have developed a ‘Blog of the week‘, allowing children to visit different blogs to improve their commenting skills as a guided reading activity.
6. Check back regularly
Once your blog is underway, check back every day! We have added flag counters and Revolver Maps to illustrate where our visitors are from. The children love looking at these as they are coming into class, and we often spend 5-10 minutes looking at new comments and visitors together.
7. Join in with what’s out there
We are all set to begin Quadblogging, which I’ve mentioned plenty of times on this blog, and if you’re not involved, you should be! We have also joined in with the 100 Word Challenge, which gives writing prompts with the added caveat of writing no more than 100 words (surprisingly!) We have had lots of comments on the back of this and have only done it once so far.
8. Give children control
Our children have their own log-ins for the blog so that they can add blogs when they like. I’ve encouraged them to blog about anything (their pets seem to be a big favourite at the moment), and also spent last week training some of the class how to add HTML code, so they can embed content from sites such as Popplet.
9. Keep it fresh
I try to add one or two posts each week, but because I want the children to lead it, I am encouraging them to blog at home as much as they can. We’ve had lots about pets and days out, a couple of poems, and two children are busily writing brilliant stories at the moment. One child has taken last week’s training and used it by adding a photograph from Flickr and links to other sites too. Not all children have internet access at home, so it is important that the children are offered time in class to blog if they want to. As well as this, we will be starting a blogging lunchtime club so children can blog with support if they want it.
10. See what happens…
You never know what might happen. Already we have had visits from around the world, including regular visitors from Texas and Perth, while Quadblogging is about to begin in earnest. The 100 Word Challenge team visited our blog and left brilliant comments, while the children are now starting to say ‘Can I blog about that?’
The children might not realise it, but they are becoming more enthusiastic about their writing, and it’s still only early days.