One way that blogging is different than emailing or posting a newsletter is that these forms of communication are often more formal, formulaic, and one-way. Blogging is a really versitile forum for sharing the learning in your class. You can easily incorporate images, movies, sound recordings, and a whole host of Web 2.0 applications that make every blog a unique reflection of the style of it's owner.
By their nature, blogs can foster great conversations and can be used to connect school-learning with learning at home. For example, you could post an image of something captured with the digital microscope, ask a question, and watch the comments as students along with their parents continue the learning together.
This creative potential of blogs however can be daunting for first-time bloggers. At the same time, there can be unease about shining light into what is often a very private space.
These uncertainties are magnified when an entire group of teachers starts blogging together. We wonder how our blogs will measure up to the others on our team and in our school.
So here's a bit of advice... we are all different, have different teaching styles, and our blog should reflect that diversity. Blogs should be real. They should be personal. They should not be standardized to the point where we all post the same things at the same time. If you want to do that, send a collaborative newsletter.
But, if you want to reflect the rich diversity of experience and professional practice you bring to bear, then blogging is for you. Here are some tips for getting started with your team.
- Choose a common launch date. By picking a launch date that's a reasonable date in the future, the team can all launch their blogs at the same time and we won't have some teachers feeling the pressure to post just because the others have already done so.
- Build up a bank of content before the launch. Blog posts can take on a variety of forms limited only by your imagination. I found this great list of 64 different class blog posts (embeded below). Don't know where to start? Choose one of the prompts and have a go. By having a bank of draft posts, you can easily pull one in from the bank if you're having an especially busy week.
- Blog for each other first. In order to meet #2, as a team, select a blogging prompt and by the next team meeting agree that everybody will come with a draft post that they'll show to the group. This does three things, it will help build up your bank of content, everybody on the team will have a good idea of the "standard" of how others are posting, and it will allow peer coaching as members of the team introduce new formatting, features, and eventually Web 2.0 add-ons.
- Communicate with the parents about the launch of your blog. Let them know why you're blogging, the kinds of things you plan to post and how you expect to use commenting. Promote the launch date and let them know that you'd appreciate them reading and sharing the blog with important people in their child's life (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc.).
- Debrief and adjust. After the blogs launch, it's important for the team to get back together and talk about how it's going. A good protocol could be to just spend time highlighting a post from each person on the team. As new tools and techniques creep into the team's blogs, make sure they are highlighted and shared among the group so that you all skill-up together.
List of 64 Ideas for Class Blogs via Free Technology For Teachers by Richard Byrne