I am taking part in the next Teacher Challenge supported by Edublogs, and this one focuses on 30 days to get your students blogging.

Our class blog has had many incarnations. I revamp the class site and start over every year. I like my current year’s students to feel like the blog has been created for them. So here’s a trip down memory lane.

My first real class site was introduced during the 2007-2008 school year. The site itself was not a blog. However, there was a blog attached to it. I had separate pages for each nine weeks, and I daily added the information of what we had done in class that particular day.

Additionally, I hand coded the html for the updates each day. It was tedious, and I cannot even figure out how I had time to do it all now! You can still visit 2007-2008 site if you are interested.

The next installment of Earth Science with Mrs. Wilson introduced the WordPress platform. It was definitely much easier to use and update. This year, I worked on creating my own WordPress theme. This was more of a challenge I wanted to prove I could do for myself. I think the results were pretty good. However, not all of the elements of the theme worked that well together (like widgets).

Using WordPress did allow for a a greater amount of interaction between my students. They also could post comments about each day’s activities for clarification of what was expected. The 2008-2009 edition of the site can be stilled be viewed as well.

Last year’s blog introduced a customized theme for each major unit. I also included a theme picker so students could choose how the site looked. I continued to use the site to post daily activities. It also became my conduit to communicate with my students while I was at the NASA tweetups that I attended. I would post updates to the class blog, and students in class would post comments and questions. This was a very exciting way to interact with my students.

Last year’s site is also still available for view.

That brings us to this year’s site. Because of the fact that each of my students has a blog portfolio based off of our class site, student use of the class site has increased. I notice that a lot more students visit the blog than ever before. Whenever we go to the computer lab, I post the day’s activities on the class site. All of my students know that the first thing to do is to log in to the computer and bring up the class site to see what we are doing. Because of this, I know all of my students know how to get to the class site from home.

We still have a lot of room for improvement. I am really looking forward to my students’ involvement in the student blogging challenge. I am sure they will become even more comfortable with their blogs and interacting with each other. I am excited to get started!

What a journey. I agree that the blog is a good platform for class lessons and instructions. With regular use, students become self-sufficient at navigating around so they use and re-use.

Here’s my post which I think is less engaging but had to have a go. Class blogs – what for?

cheers,

Malyn

Thanks for your thoughts, Malyn. In talking to fellow teachers this morning working on getting students blogging here at school, it’s really interesting how the sixth grade teachers have had more success. I think it really does come down to doing a lot with our blogs in order for them to become comfortable with the process.

Janelle

What a journey! I was interested in your idea of starting fresh with each group of new students. Because I have had students for two or three years I have tended to just carry on. However it makes me think, what will I do next year. I think I will perhaps start afresh!

Kathryn

Thanks, Kathryn! It’s great that you get to work with your students for several years. I always make my previous sites available in the class sidebar, too, in case students want to see what we did.

Hi Janelle, I wish that I had your knowledge of coding. That must have been hard work in the first year, coding all your posts. I also admire the fact that you developed your own Word Press theme. It is great to see the screen dumps of your blog timelines and I like the fact that the blogs that are no longer actively used are accessible.

Thanks for continuing on with the second series of blogging challenges.

Thanks, Anne.

It was a huge task the first year, and I so happy I decided to do everything blog based. It is so much easier.

I learned the coding my following web tutorials. I’m not that great at it; I always need to look up things when I want to do something new since I can’t remember all of the tags!

G’day Janelle,

All that coding! WOW! I have problems just keeping up with the basics.

With regard to starting a new blog with each group of students, I did that when I had a home group where I taught the same students for literacy, numeracy , history, geography and health.

But my main blog now is for ICT classes, so I am just continuing with the same blog so new students can refer back to previous posts if they want.

Thanks, Miss W. I definitely did get tired of the coding. I like that I know what to do (or how to figure out what I want to do), but it’s great I don’t have to do it all myself now.

Every year I try to decide if I should start over or just keep going. I do see the benefit in allowing students to refer back to posts before they entered the class.

Just getting started blogging in the classroom and looking forward to blogging with my students. Thanks for the idea of starting fresh each year! It is such a great idea. Cheers!

Thanks for stopping by, Rorey! Good luck as you get started blogging with your students.