Unleash the Learning Power of Blogs By Actually Using Them Consistently!

Blogs are an incredible learning tool. But like an exercise bike, having one does not lead to self improvement unless you use it. And using it sporadically is only barely helpful. You have to invest time to get the great results … imagine now the sculpted/toned bodies of the models they use in ads for any exercise equipment … then imagine the sculpted/toned brains of your students using blogs. That doesn’t happen without consistent use.

Now that I think of it though, blogs are not like an exercise bike, blogs are like one of those pieces of fitness equipment that include multiple exercises – weight lifting, sit-ups, pull-ups, leg lifts and so on. Blogs are certainly writing spaces, but they lend themselves to not just publishing writing, but also response and discussion which is that higher level thinking we are vying for. But wait! There’s still more. Blogs also include, publishing photos, videos, podcasts, spreadsheets, slide shows, art work, and much more. AND all of those pieces can be written about and discussed. AND note its not even all writing, notice in my partial list it can be oral language and media … and of course it involves reading. So multiple exercises for the brain! AND all of that is archived and it is then easy to see improvement over time – you can see it, your students can see it and their parents can see it.

Did I mention the family connection? Not only is the blog available for student collaborators to see and interact with, the students’ families can as well. Students can go home and show parents what they did today, family members can comment … see what I mean? Oooh, and I’ve had experts like scientists and athletes and the like leave comments and interact as well.

Here’s the thing though, getting back to my initial point, that doesn’t happen if we don’t use them consistently. Blogs are powerful, engaging, motivating, learning tools. So use them consistently, and use all their possibilities. Otherwise it is like doing one or two writing projects a year that you turn into published books … “My Poetry Book” and/or “The Day I Was My Dog” – great stuff, but imagine doing that all the time and you (the teacher) doesn’t have to find the special paper and laminate and so forth.

Oh, and couple your class blog with a wiki and a photo sharing service like Flickr … it only gets better.

So if you have your students blogging because you want them to learn. Then really have them blogging all the time!!!! The initial time it takes to get them up and going will pay big dividends!

Learning is messy!

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9 thoughts on “Unleash the Learning Power of Blogs By Actually Using Them Consistently!

  1. I’m currently a student teacher working on my master’s and certification in secondary education in Michigan. For one of my classes that focuses on technology we were asked to keep a blog, reacting to things we learned in class and also commented on our classmates blogs. While I’ll admit, I initially dreaded the impending blog posts each week, I’ve come to appreciate them. In fact, I’ve begun to think about how I can incorporate them into my own classroom. One of the things that I’ve struggled with the most as an English teacher, is figuring out how to create writing assignments that have students share the work they create with more people than just me. I really like the idea of having blogs acting as a journal so that students feel as if their work is being shared with the world.

    One of the things I’m still curious about, what have been some of the downsides of using blogs in your class? I suppose I’m just wondering what exactly you use your blogs assignments for, and whether or not the results were what you anticipated. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Catherine – Being an elementary teacher I use blogs for every subject AND do my best to instigate students to blog about and communicate through their blog about anything they want (within reason) besides what I “assign”. Downsides? Really none outside of changing my mindset, having taught for so many years, which shouldn’t be an issue with you. Your issue will be the mindset of your administrators and those around you (colleagues). Some newbies to blogging initially fear that they have to deal with blog posts that because they are moderated come to them before they actually post to the web – meaning you get every post to check first and you have to OK it. But that is no different than collecting a raft of papers and checking them, but instead, afterwards students can go back and edit and improve their work.

      So it’s published globally … perhaps students will be more motivated to do their best work and proofread JUST a bit more before its published if everyone has access to it? My experience is that in my 30 years+ of teaching its the most powerful learning tool ever. Students can post more than writing .. photos, videos, podcasts, links to web sites and more and more so it adjusts to a students interests and strengths. And its all archived so students go back and check their older posts and see progress … sometimes they are embarrassed by their older work because they have improved so much and they and others can see that. The results are more than great. Hope that helps!

  2. I just need to first thank you for inspiring me to try to figure out how to incorporate blogs into my classroom. I truly appreciate all of the bloggers like yourself who are willing to dedicate time and efforts to sharing your ideas to inspire others. One thing is clear… you are passionate about the topic of blogging which has in return, inspired me! I have decided to embark upon the journey of blogging and thus need to figure out how to teach my third graders to do the same. I have actually never considered incorporating a blog into my classroom but now that I’ve been focusing on the topic through my master’s study, I came across your blog. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned all of the positive aspects to blogging. I feel as though my third graders could only improve in their Language Arts by motivating them to read and write more often. I agree that since the students are typing to “the world” they would actually work to revise and edit their responses before publishing. I also love the connection to multi-media aspects such as using a wiki, Flickr, etc. to further engage my students but would have to learn more about these resources. As I am getting starting, do you have any advice for a novice blogger? Particularly, geared towards an elementary school teacher? Any suggestions would be helpful!

  3. This is my first blog I have ever kept. I am in the learning process of blogging. I can say that I do like reading what other classmates, and teachers write on their blogs. I do see that this does take time to be a good blogger. I do not just want to put anything for the entire world to see. I like reading your blogs, and you have some very good ideas to use in classrooms. I plan to use some of your ideas in my future classroom.

  4. I am currently a student at the University of South Alabama majoring in Elementary Education. I am also enrolled in a course called Educational Media (EDM310). This course is teaching us the importance of using technology in the classroom. We also have a blog, where we have to post weekly and comment on our classmates’ blog.
    I agree that blogs are powerful and can be a learning tool. I have learn so much from blogging in my class and reading assigned blog post. I think if we allow our students to blog, it would be a great way to show their families what they have learn. It will connect their family to their learning process. It is a great way for students to meet writing criteria as well. I will definitely be incorporating blogging (safely) in my class. I agree with you totally. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Blogging is new to me and not something I thought I’d ever be doing, but I am finding that I enjoy it. I see the many benefits that it can bring to students and how it can improve their technology, thinking, and writing skills. I’m not currently teaching, but when I return I would love to start a blog for my students. My favorite part of blogging has been getting to communicate with people from different places around the world. I think that is another major benefit of blogging. Students can gain exposure to different cultures. Blogging reminds me of the days when we would get pen pals from different countries, except it’s much quicker! I like your idea about adding a photo sharing site. Would you recommend Flickr? I noticed you use that one.

  6. I have been out of the classroom for 16 years and am currently enrolled as a graduate student in EDM510 at the University of South Alabama, seeking re-certification. I have so much on which to catch up! Blogs were not even discussed the last time I was in a classroom and now, technology of all kinds is expected to be used if I am to be an effective teacher. Thank you for your explanation of Blogs, as I am still new to the concept myself, your information is inspiring. Not only do I have to teach myself how to use these tools, but become proficient enough to teach my students and properly integrate it in the classroom. It does seem to be time consuming! I hope you are right about the benefits in the long run. Thank you for sharing
    Lynn Gartman

  7. As an aspiring English teacher, I feel that blogs may be one of the most useful of the tools I am learning right now in my Educational Media class. Having students publish their work online where it is able to be read by anyone will hopefully serve as a motivator for them to produce better work. The student blog is essentially an online portfolio, making it much easier to track when your students are doing the work and how they are improving throughout the semester.