Shape

How a Simple Blog Can Transform Your Students’ Independent Learning

Posted by Abigail Bryant on January 18, 2016

Getting students to blog

A while ago I stumbled upon a really interesting idea implemented by a teacher in his class, which went down very well with his students. The idea was quite simple: Get students to blog about each class. Bear with me for a second…

Back when I was doing my bachelor’s at university, blogging was the hot topic at the time. Everyone had a blog and was writing about something or other. I took the opportunity in my second year to start one myself. The contents of my blog? A summary of every lecture made available to my class. I wanted to do it because at the time I had the mentality of I can do that later. But with my blogging initiative, I forced myself to really dig deep into the material, reflect on it, and structure it so I wasn’t left behind when it was time to do coursework or exams. As a result, I felt more organized and confident, which saved me a lot of time when exams came around.

How this can be implemented with your students

The idea is not to have every single student blog about each class; that’s wishful thinking! One student is selected to be the class representative for each new lesson, and that student is responsible for taking notes, restructuring the lesson in a coherent manner and publishing it on the class blog for all other students to access. With that in mind, the rest of the class are free to take notes on their own or sit and listen if they prefer.

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Having a selected student blogger for each lesson has several benefits:

  1. Students who prefer to just listen can do that and still get a summary of the class in notes on the blog.
  2. It teaches students responsibility, putting them in charge of that lesson’s blog content for the entire class.
  3. Students who are absent will have class notes and are not left behind.
  4. Students can study and revise anytime and anywhere, as long as they have a device connected to the Internet.
  5. It teaches students specific skills that they hone over time, including note-taking, organizing information, structure and comprehension.
  6. It can tap into students’ natural tendency toward competition. If they know that their notes will be seen by the whole class, they will be more inclined to put extra work in.

These are valuable skills that students will carry with them throughout their education and professional lives.

How should each post be structured?

There are two ways to go about it. One is to have a structured approach, where you explicitly list the requirements. For example, for every blog post you might want a summary of the key points, to make sure that students understand the main takeaways from your class.

The other way is to let students get creative with their blog posts and see where this takes you! Depending on the students and the subject, a little autonomy might be a great idea. Let them draw pictures, diagrams, record small audio clips or whatever comes to mind – as long as it is helpful for the rest of the class, you can’t go wrong.

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Where can you get started?

The idea of setting up your own blog from scratch might be a little daunting, but don’t worry – it’s honestly much easier than you’d expect. If you don’t know where to start or which platform to use, here a few free ones that you can have a look at:

  • WordPress.com
  • Blogger.com
  • Postach.io
  • Pen.io
  • Ghost.org

Involving technology in your classroom does not have to be difficult or time consuming. Applied in the right way it can be a both a valuable tool and an engaging breath of fresh air! The blogging initiative may or may not be right for you. But there’s no doubt that used correctly, it can teach your students some powerful skills.

Author: Abigail Bryant

Abi is Head of Support at Kognity, where she works closely with teachers and students getting them set up and ensuring their experience with Kognity is a great one. Previously she worked as an English teacher working with International Schools in South East Asia.

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