I received this tweet today.
I’ve been having a few chats over Twitter with Mr Radburn over recent weeks and I am pleased that he is finally at the point where he is talking to staff about blogs.. But he asks a sensible question, how do you share blogs with staff? How can you enthuse them and not just get them to think that it is yet another job on their never-ending to-do list? What are the benefits?
1) Share learning with parents and the wider community – First off, sharing learning with parents is a great way to start. When I first started blogging, I used to have a daily ten minute chat with my class where we summed up our learning and then blogged it. Sometimes it was me writing, sometimes the children, but it was always their ideas. What were they proud of? What did they want to share with the world?
2) Share a blog post with someone inspiring – We are trying our best to give our children a purpose for writing. This might include writing for a different audience, writing to a specific person or writing so that we can share it with the world. We have tried different approaches but one that happens now and again is that a piece of work gets blogged and a teacher might send a tweet to the author that inspired the work. For example, just this week Marissa Meyer commented on a display that is all based around her book “Cinder”. Year 5 have been looking at the text, they created a display and with a few tweets, the author wrote back. For children that might find writing difficult, knowing that there is a real audience can have a huge impact!
We have had a range of successes since we introduced blogging at Riders last year:
- John Dyer commented on artwork that we made based on his paintings.
- Andy Stanton responded to a blog post that reviewed his Mr Gum books.
- We wrote instructions for living in space and Commander Hadfield left us a few comments.
3) Take photos! – We are in the process of buying tablets for school and the first thing I will be doing is showing everyone how to blog with them. To be honest, it involves taking a photo, pressing a few buttons and you’re done, but still. Blogging with a mobile device is a powerful tool for sharing learning with an audience. My plan is to have six tablets per class, each setup with the WordPress app so that teachers and children can snap a photo, add a caption or description and publish instantly. By Christmas, we will be blogging like mad. I’ve done it in my previous school and parents loved it. Children were also able to talk about why they were proud of their work and the learning that had happened. Yes you can do it with a camera too but a tablet or mobile device just takes out a few steps along the way.
4) Make it easy – I use WordPress. I have tried other tools, but I love WordPress. I have a self-hosted blog which means that I can install apps and add-ons as I need to rather than using the “out-of-the-box” WordPress software. (Bit more info on that here). One of my favourite plugins to install is Easy Blogging. I use this in collaboration with a tool that allows me to set different levels of access. So children all have the ability to login to the blog, write a new post and then send it to me to review before it goes live. I have set the blog up so that all children are forced to use Easy Blogging, but they also have the option to deactivate it if they need more power.
This is a normal WordPress dashboard. It has everything that I need on there including updates, announcements, comments etc but there is a bit too much for some people.
So Easy Blogging can cut this right down to just the essentials. Much less cluttered and easier for the less-techy staff and younger children to manage.
5) Join in with a challenge – I have written before about the 100 Word Challenge – www.100wc.net – and although my approach has changed slightly (we use Google Docs to write it and for peer assessment) we still enjoy writing and entering this weekly challenge. We have also managed to have a few pieces of work on the weekly showcase too.
6) Get a buddy – This could be through quad blogging, it might just be by befriending someone else in school but having a blogging buddy helps. This is another class or school that will leave you comments regularly in return for your class doing the same. This can help to inspire children as they know people will actually be responding to their work.
Those are some of the things that I could think of that might help when introducing blogs to new staff. How have you shared blogs with other teachers? What worked? What didn’t?