Better Blogs for Engagement

What I need to teach students in order to blog

For BlogEd introduction:
Rationale for student blogs:- To give students a platform to connect, communicate and collaborate with an authentic audience that includes students, teachers, parents, local community and a global community.
Blogging is a tool that allows students to make their work look good, shows what they have learned and achieved, gives voice to their ideas and opinions, provides a space for journal entries, allows an area for reflection and a platform for digital portfolios. (See my 20 reasons for students to blog post) by Anne Mirtschin a teacher at Hawkesdale P12 College, in country western Victoria, Australia.

To create student blogs, the following essential content and topics will be covered in my classes.
  • Appropriate user names, passwords and blog url
  • Writing posts and pages
  • Using the dashboard and managing posts
  • How to categorise and tag post entries (for personal and search engine purposes)
  • How to write reflective and descriptive journal entries
  • Appropriate content for school based online blogs
  • How to instigate and maintain conversations, using comments
  • How to comment appropriately on blog posts, email thank you replies to people who comment on their blogs
  • Appropriate behaviours including plagiarism, cyber safety and digital citizenship
  • The use of widgets in the sidebar eg website links, categories, clustrmaps, feedjit,
  • How to use their blog for reflective purposes.
  • How to insert images
  • Resizing images using eg irfanview etc


  • Introduce various web2.0 tools to give an attractive appearance and rich content eg toondoo, wordle, slideshare etc
  • How to use and create avatars, vokis etc
  • How to add hyperlinks
  • Addition of further widgets for effect eg weather pixie, slideshare widgets etc
  • How to embed web2.0 tools by using the resultant code
  • Work that reflects their own personal identity and learning styles
  • How to add or link multimedia content including podcasts, digital stories and movies
  • How to add MS Powerpoint and other MS Office docs (for PC schools) etc eg, scribd etc

BlogEd resources$$/it/learnsyssupport/bloged/index.htm
Student Samples

20 Reason Students Should Blog
It is FUN! Fun!….. it is wonderful when students think they are having so much fun, they forget that they are actually learning.

  1. authentic audience – no longer working for a teacher who checks and evalutes work but a potential global audience.
  2. Suits all learning styles – special ed (this student attends special school 3days per weeek, our school 2 days per week, gifted ed, visual students, multi-literacies plus ‘normal‘ students.
  3. Increased motivation for writing – all students are happy to write and complete aspects of the post topic. Many will add to it in their own time.
  4. Increased motivation for reading – my students will happily spend a lot of time browsing through fellow student posts and their global counterparts. Many have linked their friends onto their blogroll for quick access. Many make comments, albeit often in their own sms language.
  5. Improved confidence levels – a lot of this comes through comments and global dots on their cluster maps. Students can share their strengths and upload areas of interest or units of work eg personal digital photography, their pets, hobbies etc Staff are given an often rare insight into what some students are good at. We find talents that were otherwise unknown and it allows us to work on those strengths. It allows staff to often gain insight to how students are feeling and thinking.
  6. Pride in their work – My experience is that students want their blogs to look good in both terms of presentation and content. (Sample of a year 10 boy’s work)
  7. Blogs allow text, multimedia, widgets, audio and images – all items that digital natives want to use
  8. Increased proofreading and validation skills
  9. Improved awareness of possible dangers that may confront them in the real world, whilst in a sheltered classroom environment
  10. Ability to share – part of the conceptual revolution that we are entering. They can share with each other, staff, their parents, the community, and the globe.
  11. Mutual learning between students and staff and students.
  12. Parents with internet access can view their child’s work and writings – an important element in the parent partnership with the classroom. Grandparents from England have made comments on student posts. Parents have ‘adopted’ students who do not have internet access and ensured they have comments.
  13. Blogs may be used for digital portfolios and all the benefits this entails
  14. Work is permanently stored, easily accessed and valuable comparisons can be made over time for assessment and evaluation purposes
  15. Students are digital natives - blogging is a natural element of this.
  16. Gives students a chance to show responsibility and trustworthiness and engenders independence.
  17. Prepares students for digital citizenship as they learn cybersafety and netiquette
  18. Fosters peer to peer mentoring. Students are happy to share, learn from and teach their peers (and this, often not their usual social groups)
  19. Allows student led professional development and one more……
  20. Students set the topics for posts – leads to deeper thinking activities
This is surely powerful learning!!

At the end of this first lesson we developed a list of things we know about blogs: by Kim Cofino.
  • Blogging is free
  • People can leave comments on a blog post
  • People can see other people’s comments on a blog post
  • If you are the author of a blog, you can edit or delete anything on the blog as long as you have the correct username and password
  • A lot of blogs have things in common: pictures, comments, links, dates, archives, calendar, videos, opinions, recent posts, author’s name, conversations
  • A blog is like a website EXCEPT that blogs invite conversation, opinions and ideas while websites usually just tell their ideas without any feedback
  • Even though many blogs have the same features, they have different information
  • Authors put links on their blog because they think their readers will like them
  • Blogging is like a conversation with other people – some people you might know, some people you might not know
  • Bloggers want their reader’s opinions
  • Everyone in the world can see our blog
  • Blogging is reading and writing