I’ve been blogging with my Foundation (4-6 year old) students for the better part of the last 5+ years. It’s my absolutely favourite, go-to tool for communicating and sharing information with families, as well as using it with the students to create authentic writing examples.
Today I want to share my Top 5 Reasons for Having a Classroom Blog. These are not the only reasons to have a blog, of course, but if you’ve never had a classroom blog, this might give you a few ideas for why you should have a classroom blog. Stayed tuned for future blog posts that will include setting up your classroom blog and ways to engage your students (and families) on your blog.
1. Communicate with parents
The primary focus of my classroom blog for the last few years has been to communicate with parents. Over the last few years I’ve had a lot of working families who haven’t been able to come into the classroom on a regular basis and hear about what we’re working on. Each weekend (usually on a Sunday) I post a weekly summary of what we will be learning in the upcoming week – including reminders, English and Math topics, special events and Question/s of the Week. This quick overview gives parents and families a great starting point for talking to their kids about what they’ve been learning during the day and also prepares the kids for the upcoming week.
2. Showcase classroom learning
Again, some families aren’t able to make it into the classroom often, so having an online space where you can share work, photos (with permission, of course) and student reflections gives those parents and families a window into the classroom. It’s also a great space to look back on at the end of each term for students so they can see all the great things they have done. I like to include photos or scanned copies of student work and artwork, photos of students working in the classroom and photos of special school events (such as excursions, incursions, guest speakers and casual/funny dress days). I also like asking students to reflect on something they have learnt or enjoyed about and record their answers on the blog.
3. Teach students about writing for an authentic audience
When teaching writing – even to very young students – we’re always encouraging them and teaching them about their ‘audience’ or who they’re writing for. A classroom blog is a very authentic platform for developing an audience. When we collaboratively create blog posts as a class we talk about who our audience is: Is it parents and families? Is it other students? Is it a global audience? Then we discuss how the way we use language changes depending on the audience. When we get comments back from families, students know that they’re writing for a real audience – not just the teacher or other students in the class.
4. Teach students about online safety
I blog with my Foundation/Kindergarten students and have for five years. It’s a really great way to teach them about online safety because it’s a ‘real’ online space that’s theirs. It’s accessible to other people around the world and as such we have to talk about what we can and can’t share on the blog. Families in our school have the choice to sign (or not sign) a blog permissions form that gives the school permission to share audio/visual work and photos. We talk about this as a class. We also discuss the kinds of information we can share – first names are okay, but never last names. We don’t include photos and names in the same post. We never share photos, names and addresses in the same post. Students learn how to leave a comment correctly (just their first name) when they’re at home.
5. Engage students and families at home
Probably my favourite reason to have a classroom blog is the feedback I receive from parents and families about student engagement at home. Even if all you post on your blog is information for parents, this still gives parents the tools to talk about the school day and activities with their kids on a much more specific level. Before I started blogging with my Foundation students, a lot of parents would come in and tell me that their kids would come home and say they’d forgotten what they’d done during the day or that they didn’t know what they’d learnt (which is very common with little ones). By giving parents the information they’ve been able to ask very specific questions like, ‘What did you learn about the sound /s/ today?’ or ‘What patterns did you make at school today?’ It makes a huge change. Because the blog is essentially a website, I can share multimedia content – like videos or interactive widgets – or links to websites that complement our learning goals that they can access at home. This is useful for families who just aren’t aware of the myriad of resources available to them.
Do you blog with your students? What grades do you blog with? How do you blog with them? I’d love to know, because I think every teacher approaches it a little differently. There’s no one ‘perfect design’ for blogging with your class, but taking a bit of time to think about the purpose of your blog will help guide the way you blog with your students.
Don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments, or if you have any other questions about blogging. Follow my blog for future posts on blogging with your class!