20 Tips for Student Blogging

Decorative: A human shape holding a banner saying "blog," standing in middle of 8 other human shapes

 

"20 Ideas for Solid Student Blogging" (post) from Ditch That Textbook  builds on students' love of posting and their experiences as "digital collaborators."

  • It outlines "20 things to consider" if you opt for "student blogging articles/chat comments/podcasts" as assignments or activities to help students "be there when they engage with [your] content]."
  • Points below are developed more fully in the post.

See also

1. Write about class and more.

  • Students "don’t automatically reflect on their lives and what’s important to them."
  • "Their blog in your class may be their only opportunity."

2. "Open topic posts are good." 

  • See "100+ Ideas and Prompts for Student Blogging" for ideas -- many of which, though aimed at a younger audience, can be productively adapted to post-secondary students
    • 10 types of blog posts to suggest
    • 8 common formats of blog posts to experiment with
    •  Advice on "How to Apply Blogging prompts to the Classroom"
    • 14 suggestions for "connecting with others"
    • Specific blog posts/activities under a variety of topics

3. "Go to their world: So what do they write about?"

  • "Making content touch their own lives is a connection that can last a lifetime."

4. "Let students pick." 

  • "Open the floor for writing prompt suggestions."
  • "You might be surprised at the kinds of creative, relevant connections they make."

5. "Teamwork works." 

  • "Encourage students to connect with each other in their posts to make them more personal, and not just in the comments they leave."
  • "Q&A interviews and polls work well."

6. "Do your homework." 

  • "Encourage (or require) students to link facts in their posts to real-world sources."
    • "Hyperlink webpages."
    • "Cite hard-copy texts."
    • "Use direct quotes when citing a classmate’s opinion."

7. "Encourage readability." 

  • "Good blog writing crosses over from the 'real world' to the classroom."
    • "Catchy introductions."
    • "A 'what’s it about' paragraph early on."
    • "Bullet points and lists."
    • "Short paragraphs."
    • "Simple sentences."
    • "Conclusions with questions."

8. "Reward out-of-class blogging." 

  • Try "incentives for after-hours activity (i.e. extra points/privileges, polls/games for interest, etc.)."
  • "Real-time blog responses to events (i.e. school activities, news, etc.) can do this."

9. "It takes time." 

  • "[R]ushing students to write and comment leads to shallow content."
  • "A little time can encourage a great digital conversation."

10. "Emphasize clean copy."

  • "Solid spelling, grammar and idea development gives them credibility in the eyes of their readers."

11. But don’t nitpick: 

  • "Avoid the temptation to correct every spelling and grammar error."
  • "Real-life blog readers don’t do that (not much at least!)."
  • "Plus, it discourages their creativity and initiative." 

12. "Good comments are key." 

  • "Good [comments] add ideas/information to the discussion, insert personal experiences, provide insightful links/quotes, ask follow-up questions, etc."

13. "Choose a stance on comments." 

  • There are "two schools of thought on comments: quantitative and qualitative ... A mix of both may be the best option."
    • "The quantitative stance has countable requirements (comments, words, etc.) ... [and] can assure participation but promotes an 'I have to' mentality."
    • "The qualitative stance values quality of discussion over quantity but may result in less participation."

14. "Create respect." T

  • "The lack of face-to-face communication in online discussions makes it easy to forget that real people actually read what we write."
  • "Students can become brazen with harsh comments if they don’t remember the peers they’re addressing."
  • "Civility should rule."

15. "High-five good work." 

  • "Find ways to promote quality blog posts and comments outside of the student blog."

16. "Decide on privacy." 

  • "Public student blogs can open [students] to the harshness and dangers of the real world, but they offer an authentic, global audience."

17. "Find a medium." 

  • "There are plenty of potential homes for your students’ blogs."

18. "Break the economic barrier." 

  • "Students without home Internet access are at a disadvantage."
  • "Help them find Internet time in school [computer labs, free internet on campus, etc.]... or out of school (at a library, a friend’s house, etc.)." 

19. "Cumulative products are good."

  • "Find an end-of-the-year product students can create using their blog posts."
  • "They could create a book (print or PDF ebook), derive a Weebly website, compile a top-10 list of posts or comments."

20. "Reflection is good, too." 

  • "When students look over their work for a year, they can see how they’ve grown as a writer, a learner, and a person."
  • "They combat the 'I didn’t learn anything in that class' mindset."
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