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Develop a Blogging Community for Students to Preserve History

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 1.57.10 PM.pngStudents diligently typed away as they worked on their weekly transition blogs. The sound of fingers touching keyboards and the hum of silence as they each reflected and spent time in their personal online spaces.

This was an idea they created in advisory that was meant for reflection and an opportunity to document their final months of high school in preparation for college or life after graduation. Students also loved the idea of preserving their experiences for their future selves to share.

More importantly than just getting their thoughts out on a page (they could do that in a notebook or journal), however, was making their ideas public for an authentic audience.

Knowing that they have an audience has been a propelling force for some of these seniors and one they have enjoyed. There is something very motivating about knowing people will read what has been written and potentially provide feedback that makes students feel heard and connected with.

Fellow Twitter Teachers, and I collaborated to develop a community of bloggers with an authentic audience. We've shared URLs and have asked our kids to read and comment on each others' blogs. There is also a hashtag dedicated to getting feedback for student blogs #comments4kids on Twitter which can increase traffic to your students' blogs. 

After having some technical difficulties, the students moved in the right direction, gathering a rhythm and writing regular posts even outside the time provided during advisory once a week.

In addition to the collaboration with the other classroom, several of my seniors are working on developing clips giving advice to incoming seniors about how to prepare for college. These could be added to blog as a part of the way they conserve their experiences.

I've been fortunate enough to have recent former students provide me with footage about advice they would give to incoming college freshmen. Their willingness to help me still is a testament to the relationships I forge with kids every day.

Setting up blogs with students is easy, especially if they are using Google already:

  1. Once students have a google account (for middle school or older, there are blogs available in a closed setting for younger kids), they need only click on the blogger icon in their google drive to set up a blog.
  2. It will ask them to come up with a name and a URL
  3. Then they can customize the look, playing with themes and colors - make it their own
  4. Then they can start posting. 

Because of the success of this blogging experiment, I built it in to other classes as well, using the space as a way to develop voice and discuss a plethora of topics like independent reading or fashion for our journalism class. Some students even built sports blogs. 

One area I'd like to continue to push in, is to potentially get students to develop vlogs or podcasts as an additional way to preserve their young selves.

Seniors only get to live their last year of high school once... how awesome would it be to have a public record of their own thoughts and feelings of it for the future? And it doesn't have to only be seniors, think of a time in your life when you found work in a box from when you were a kid, wasn't it fun to see your thoughts and be reminded of your younger self? Why not help students develop their digital footprint in an authentic way while helping learn to be good digital citizens?

How have you used blogging with your students to help build an online community and become better digital citizens? Please share

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