blogging about blogging


11 days away from ICLS, and we have made some significant progress….

Here are our 10 blogs:

Blog title, duration of blog, month of focused analysis

1. Science by Davis 1/30-6/1/07 – April
2. Science Matters 3/25 – 6/25/07 April

3. AP Bio 9/19/07 – present, October

4. 801 Science Readers 11/22 – 6/20/07, April

5. I Heart Science 3/13 – 5/15/06, April

6. Hurley AP Chem 9/12 – present, October

7. PreCalc 07 9/5 -present, October

8. Lloyd LE1 8/31 – present, October

9. Lloyd LE8 8/31 – present, October

10. Wison IB Bio 9/10 – present, October


Catching up and checking in meeting…

Hey there –

I thought I’d post our agenda today, so Heather can check it out. This is what the tentative plan is for today:

  1. We found another science teacher blogger!  Check out Kim’s blogs for additional inspiration
  2. Checking in…. some reflective time… Click checking in and fill this out.
  3. Accomplishments?
  4. What do you need?
    1. Motivating kids?
    2. Access to tools?
    3. An engaged audience?
    4. Course load?
  5. Action Plans
  6. Support groups (at least for the future)
    1. Chris, Michael & Heather (Jeremiah)
    2. Sarah, Ellen & Greg (April)


    1. Goal sheets from everyone – if you don’t have it click here:Goal Setting
    2. Next meeting

Blogging so far

Well, we’ve (my classes and I) had quite the foray into blogging.

First, the logistics of getting started were a semi-nightmare. It was quite the production teaching the kids simply how to log on, change their passwords and write a simple post or comment. The first time through everyone at least got to log in, if not post. But, it was really stressful for me running around to answer quetions. Then, the second time around several kids forgot their passwords (ummm kiddos…it’s only three days later!). So, it took a lot of time to wrangle them into getting new passwords through my account plus troubleshooting for everyone else who was trying to post. An added bump is that I have the kids assigned as contributors, so their posts and comments go through my account before they post. I like this feature already because I’ve had to delete some mildly inappropriate posts, but the kids want the instant gratification of seeing their work post to the blog. So, it’s been a bit stressful trying to quickly skim and post for the kids while also troubleshooting.

Other observations …
Some students are very interested and seem to naturally “get” the idea of blogging. Several have put up substantial posts in response to the posts of the wildlife biologists we are working with. Some others are still operating on the one or two sentence post, but I am letting it go through this week. To help scaffold I write ideas for posts on the board in the computer lab and next week we are going to take stock of our class blogs and discuss what is good/what can be improved/what we want to post about. We’ll also look at some exemplars of student posts. I wanted to give the kids some time to get used to blogging and develop skills on their own before I did too much with expectations.

If you check out the blogs they reflect the personality of my sections very well. That excites me because I think it is a key to having our blog help us develop a sense of classroom community. My 8th period section has struggled with relating to the postings by our scientist, but they have developed more of a “crosstalk” between themselves than any other section and have put up more personal posts. So far I am not worrying about the lack of continuity and scientific content in this section’s posts. They are my “alternative” (kids identified by the district as most at risk of dropping out) section, so the fact that they are putting themselves out there and wanting to interact with each other is more important to me than the science content. Like the other sections, starting next week we’ll try to get a little more into what “good” posts look like. But, I am sure what this section decides a “good post” is will be very different than what the other sections come up with. The fact that what a “good post” should be/look like can be determined by the participants is something I think will be very powerful for my students.

The last thing I’ll reflect on is the language kids are using in the posts. I have been very lax about the use of “proper English”. I am letting the lack of capitalization and the IM lingo slide, as well as post titles like “waz good”, “what up” or “yo”. I struggled with this, but when I went back to my goals and thought about it, I decided it is okay to let the language be. I figure it is part of us developing a community and a way for each student to have his/her post be unique. So, right now I am going to go with letting all the lingo, etc. slide, but have kids do better spell checking!

This seems like a big lump of things, but we’ve posted a few times and a lot has gone through my mind!

First steps

or how to actually do this in a classroom.

Ok, lets step back from the theoretical for a minute. There are some basic logistics that should be thought about. For instance: will your district allow you to blog? If the answer is no…well you haven’t talked to them long enough then. Seriously, if you are reading this post, you problem understand the possibilities that blogging in a classroom offers. Most likely, there are very few people who would say: “I do not want my students involved involved with an activity that pushes them to be reflective learners, collaboratively interacting with a potentially global audience around the very ideas that they are addressing in their classrooms.” What they will say is: But what about the bad people on the web.

Yes, there are many bad people on the web. So I too suggest we think about this issue.

First, you need to be able to assure the people in your district that you are aware of this issue. You may want to find a blogging place where you can have some ability to review postings before they go live. This will allow you to assure district personnel that you  are watching for appropriateness. However, you will want to set in there a period in which students can prove responsibility and thus be freed from this hurdle to their posts. Also, you don’t want to have to review every single post.

Secondly, you will need to do some research around the Acceptable Use Policy.  This is what students (and usually parents) sign to say it is OK to use the internet. Have your blogging project fall under this same use policy with the same expectations and consequences. Check it out though, some policies were actually written to restrict blogging and other postings.

Thirdly, you will need to address the issue of filtering. Districts must filter internet access for students. Usually they have some company do this filtering.  When filtering you either open up an entire site or close it down. So for (for instance) you either let students get to every blog there or none at all.  So you may want to research some education only blog hosting. This way your district can be comfortable opening up the entire site. The other option is to install your own blog software on a server you maintain. As most of us don’t have that option, I suggest a place such as

Ok…so there are my 2 cents on this topic. There are more issues involved…but will save those for some of our experiences down the road.

Happy blogging!!

Nuts and Bolts of Blogging (according to Heather and Michael)

Nuts and Bolts

1. How to deal with administrator/ parent concerns about safety?
2. Appropriate content?
a. Acceptable use policy
3. How to get kids signed up?
a. Each need own email?
4. Structure?
a. Whole class?
b. Small group?
c. Individual?
5. Private or open to community?
6. Viewing and/or commenting by parents?
7. Student access to computers?
a. Library?
b. Classroom?
c. Home?
8. Capacity?
9. Accountability?
10. Multimedia capabilities of site?

Questions for Setting up a Blog

Here are the questions we came up with to answer before effectively using a blog in a classroom.

Blog Questions

Lets see what we get!

-Greg and Chris

Possible Structures for Blogging

  • Scribe for the day
  • Project Model — students can post pieces of a project as they finish (jigsaw, sharing for peer review, etc.)
  • Lab–posting results, data, conclusions for collaboration, consulting experts, etc.
  • Opener/Closer — reading over the previous day’s entry as a warmup
  • Resources Bank — students add resources for projects
  • In class comments — adding quotes during class to the blog (ex. April’s theory about the atom)
  • Science Fair Support Group — brainstorming idea, posting procedures, getting feedback
  • Making real life connections to the content — current events, debatable topics, etc.

Classroom blogs to explore

Check out the following blogs and use the comments feature to evaluate the strengths, limitations and how you would improve the use of each of two of them.What should we attend to when we look at them? What do we care about?



balance of student and teacher voice

outside participation


prompts for posts

positioning of blog within larger classroom

evidence of class-induced change

evidence of conversations

How might a student answer, “What value is your blogging to your learning?”


teacher’s role

primary voice


meaningful engagement with content


1. The Georgia – NJ Connection – building better journalists

2. Excellence and Imagination

3. I Heart Science

4. High School Government Class (Make sure to check out the links to the student blogs)

5. The I-Search

6. The Guerrilla Season Blook Blog (7th/8th grade American History)

7. Room 110 Blog (computer and technology)

8. Science Readers responding to this assignment

9. A Scotland elementary classroom blog

10. Science Matters

11. Communicating in Spanish

12. Pre Calculas 40S – Grade 12

13. Science by Davis

14. The Living Environment

Added Later by J:) 15 . Street Photojournalism

16. Mr. K’s pre-Calc Class

Quantitative Blog research

I am in Quantitative Research this summer. For my final project I found the data that the PEW institute used for its reports on blogging. I was wondering if we wanted me to do anything with this and tie it into what we are doing, since I have to do the analysis anyway. — How I could see using this: to get into the minds of those who blog in the general arena to talk about the identity/participation issue.

Here are some topics which I have variables for: Do you post about Multiple topics  or just one, do you plan on continuing to blog, the importance of blog, why do you blog, do you allow comments on blog, what is the perceived audience of the blog, what is the importance of that audience on your posting/writing

Let me know pretty quickly as I am going to be working on it some this weekend and then really getting into it the next week and 1/2 (seeing as it is due on 8/8)


My blog reviews

Not sure what happened to this. I posted it around 8 this morning……good thing I saved it offline too.


Armbars Happen-

“ One of the problems, I think, with these blogs is that I don’t think too many people are reading them. Hence, the writers are losing their excitement about writing in them. Even though they are public, and even though I have invited their parents and other family members to make comments, NO ONE HAS. This has created a sense in the middle schoolers that no one is reading the blogs. Please feel free to leave positive, helpful, even mildly confrontive comments to these blogs. When people feel “heard,” they feel validated and encouraged. And THANK YOU, for listening to ME during my inservice!”

Mostly personal posts here. Seems that some may have been teacher prompted.  This blog DID last for the whole year though…so may be worth looking at.

Bulldog blog- 5th grade

All student blogs closed to public. The teacher prompted students and students commented. Typically based on thoughts coming from the weekly reader. – about 2 posts a month from the teacher

Science Rocks—8th Grade Science

On student’s blog: “People you eally need to comment on peoples articles. that is what this whole thing is about. Well since this is suposed to be science related….. What is your favorite kind of animal.
Personally mine is a DOG!!!!!”

Teachers blog: very limited but consistent student posts—mostly personal but some science related.

Little structure or guidance from the teacher.

Mrs. Crean’s Cross Core Blog – Going into summer school

Mostly a place to have personal responses about books (favorite, etc) and to showcase poetry of students

She organized differently—not a running blog, but topics for students to coment on throughout the summer. Some students created own topics and she reverenced them for other students to post. She also gives a model of Excellent Comment taken from other students.

True scaffolding going on here.

Cool Cat Teaacher’s Student Blog

Many prompts for thoughts. Students are expected to comment. Some deal with content, some deal with theory/thoughts. Here is an interesting one that she posted:

Recently, Dr. Scott McCleaod wrote about a school administrator who said:
The school district is legally obligated to protect our students from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them for the outside.
Do you agree or disagree? Do the dangers of technology outweigh the benefits of teaching them to you? Why or why note?
State your position and defend it in at least 10 sentences.

Ned the Lead:-

Coordination space for classroom project. Teacher simply provided organizational and exampled. Student’s post were about time spent with Ned.

Wildcat Writers

This blog is about writing. It looks like the teacher both posted prompts on the blog and provided prompts in the classroom or maybe gave them time in class to write. Much of it is simply telling about something that happened to them, but there are some thoughtful and reflective pieces too. This is 6th grade. It does seem that there was some valuing of this as one student posted over the summer asking where everyone was and why no one had posted yet.

MVP- Victor Intermediate Library

It looks like the approach here was to talk about 1 book across different classes who were all reading it. There are many posts during the project. Almost no cross-posting. The one benefit to this one is that I know (in passing but could reconnect with her) the library teacher who initiated this project, so getting an interview would work.

Red Team Blog

Well….seems to be a teacher assignment and then many student posts to that assignment. Much of it is in French though…so hard to evaluate. They did also have some audio posts.

Ms. Dowlings Science 8-

Only 3 assignments posted and students then responded. Fall 06. Another one that died.

Grade 10 College Writing

Looks like it might have been pretty good and consistent for the 3 months that it ran. However, all the student posts were behind password protection so couldn’t see them.

Sometime you just need a good brainache

Grade 6 Science. This class used it pretty consistently with little teacher prompts from February to end of the year. This was used to post information that they had found interesting or little facts/questions they had come up with. Only 2 teacher posts…but usually 1-2 comments on almost every student post. Also 2nd teacher post was an obvious negation/planning of the space. He saw that he needed to clearly lay out the expectations but this was after kids had posted.

Outstanding Octopi

6-8 science and math alternative

Seems pretty consistent (if sparse) posting from last august until now. Problem is that the students’ postings are password protected again.

Questions to ponder

6th grade science

Seems to have had 2-3 big topics that they posted about during certain times throughout the year. So we have an august, December and then march set of postings.

However, one reason we may want to use it is that the teacher posted this:

Recently,I had the opportunity to share information about Blogging with the other teachers at school. Being able to share my thoughts and feelings about Blogging made me wonder about yours. So, I ask you…If you could tell the other teachers how you feel about Blogging, what would you like to tell them? In your response, please don’t just say “I like blogging” or “I don’t like it” They want to know WHY you do or you don’t. They want to know about your feelings. So be honest with yourself as you write.

We then have about 7 posts in response to this from the students.

Excellence and Imagination

Middle School SS

He uses many of the features of the blog software. His seems to be about the use of the blogs in his classes and as a central discussion about their experiences. There are then links both in the blogs and on the side to the blogs students are maintaining.

I think this is a good one to use. The share their experiences as they work on international projects. Some commenting is going on. He also has alumni bloggers who seem to still be posting occasionally. I would say we should select this one.

Spanish 1

Assignment posting—but good comments (probably also part of the assignment). The nice thing here is that they seem to be commenting to those in other sections of the course. This at least breaks down the typical boundaries of the classroom. Both written and oral posts. Assignments and postings did span the entire year.