Blogging with children
Monday, February 07th, 2011 | Author:

I originally wrote this article to appear in the Spring edition of User Friendly, Hampshire’s ICT magazine. As the magazine has now appeared in schools, I thought it would be a good idea to copy it below for you all to see. I wrote this in October 2010.

Do your children blog? No? Why not? Blogging is a fantastic way of sharing and celebrating the learning that is going on within your school. I know that you already do this with your learning platform, but blogging takes it to another level and allows your children’s learning to be seen from anywhere in the world. I am writing this in October half-term and our school’s blogs have been viewed 9,500 times in 7 weeks. (Edit 7/2/11 this is now 69,000 visits) We have had people visit from USA, Canada, South Africa and the Far East. This creates a huge buzz of excitement and we have had people comment that we have inspired them which makes us (and the children) feel very proud indeed. There is the blog feature within Wizkid and while this is great, it would limit the children to writing within the school and not for a wider audience. I am not sure about blog features in other VLEs, but I am sure they offer similar tools.

Before you start:

Check your photo permissions. You will have done this for your website and for your VLE already and this is just another thing on the list of tools that require photographs. You can of course blog without photos and just include the backs of children’s heads or just their work, it is up to you.

Three ways to setup a blog in school:

Pros Cons
WordPress.com Simple to setup

Free

Limited names available if you want class6 etc

You’d have to find and install plugins and themes

Primaryblogger.co.uk Simple to setup (you can have a blog in 60 seconds)

Free

Plugins provided

Themes provided

Spam filter provided

Not as much control as a self-hosted blog (but still great)
Self-hosted WordPress Full control over the name e.g. www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk

Full control over all themes, plugins and options

Small technical knowledge needed to setup a domain

Hosting £5-20 a year

Please note: There are other ways such as Blogger, Typepad etc but at the time of writing Blogger is blocked so I have focused on WordPress. I would suggest looking at primaryblogger.co.uk as it would help the majority of people get blogging in minutes.

Settings:

You MUST make sure that you check the box that says ‘requires admin approval before comments go live’, this can be found under the Settings>Discussion menu. This means that any comments from the outside world get vetted by you before going public. Just in case you get some dodgy visitors and comments.

Setup a map or globe from www.clustrmaps.com or http://www.revolvermaps.com/ so that you can see who has visited your blog.

Now what?

Now you can start blogging. Blog when you feel like it. Blog when you want to show things off. Blogging makes a great plenary tool at the end of a lesson to show what you have done or what you have learnt. You can also use blogging to ask questions for the readers and visitors. Use it to show off the ‘silly little things’ that happen in your school on a daily basis, parents will love this. This half-term we have had photos of aliens we have sewn together, leaves made out of numbers, instruction writing and games made in 2DIY.

One key thing is to get the children involved. We often login for them as the teacher and then let them write the text. This way they are becoming a part of the process, then you can check it and press ‘Publish’ before it goes live.

More advanced:

Why not combine it with a tool such as Animoto or Photopeach and make your photos a bit more exciting? You can embed most things into a blog so you could have a Google map or a Voki or a PrimaryPad.

Some examples:

http://www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk – St John the Baptist Primary, Hampshire (My school)

http://blackfield6ao.wordpress.com/ – Blackfield Primary, Hampshire

http://fordingbridgejunior.blogspot.com/ – Fordingbridge Junior, Hampshire

http://tobythepuppy.wordpress.com/ – Fordingbridge Junior, Hampshire

http://hmsastute.wordpress.com/ – Titchfield Primary, Hampshire

http://heathfieldcps.net/ – Heathfield School, Bolton

E-Safety to consider:

  • Make sure you have permissions to include the children’s names/photographs on your blog
  • Ensure that an adult is in control of what gets posted and when – both when writing blog posts and commenting on a blog
  • Talk to the children about the blog, what it is used for and ways of using it appropriately

One last top tip – Once you setup a blog, send my classes a comment and we’ll visit your blog and say hello. It’s always useful to share the experience with other schools.

For a more in-depth guide to setting up a blog including which plugins to use, please visit my blog: www.ianaddison.net and search for wordpress.

Ian Addison

ICT Coordinator,

St John the Baptist Primary School