Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So...You Wanna Be A Blogger

So this is a blog.

Yep. It really is, or at least I want it to be.

This is a space for me to reflect, share, learn and grow with anyone who stops by. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I really do enjoy working on this. 

Besides the professional growth, blogs can be a wonderful addition to any classroom too. 

So you are thinking? I wanna start blogging? But I don't know anything about it? 

Fear not kind reader! I have several resources for you to read and consult as you begin this wonderful journey. 

First, you are going to need a space. There are lots of them out there:

  • Blogger-This is my platform of choice. If you use anything Google you can set up a blog, for free and start. It's as easy as picking a name and writing your first post. There are lots of customization options too that allows a lot of flexibility to personalize your space. 
  • Wordpress-This is also free and there are 2 options. You can open a Wordpress account and, just like Blogger, begin pretty easily. The other option is to purchase your own domain and install Wordpress there. It really isn't as complicated as it sounds. (In fact lots of web hosting sites will do a bundle, the domain and the hosting, for a discount.) There is a great guide to getting started with all that here
  • Posterous-Again, free. Posterous is unique in that you can submit posts via email. When you create your space you get an unique email address that you can send your posts too and poof! they appear on your blog. Its great too because you can add collaborators via their email address and they can post too. (Great for classroom blogging.)
And there are apps for all these so you can blog on the go.

Still confused with all the options and how to get the most of of what you choose? My friend Richard has created a great page with lots of tutorials on how to use Blogger, Wordpress and Posterous. 

Ok. Now that you have a space. What exactly are blogs all about? 

So you have your space all set up and you have a working knowledge of how things work. What do you post about? Well that's what's great about blogs. They are your personal space on the Internets. Post whatever you think you need to or want to. Decide on a focus but don't get married to it. This blog has gone through lots of changes and I post about all sorts of things. Sure its about Web 2.0 but I touch on Leadership, Education Reform and some personal stuff too. Your blog is what you make of it.

Maybe you are thinking about staying away from the personal reflection stuff (although I really, really encourage it) and you want to do just a Class Blog or have your students blogging. If its a class blog, what do you want to communicate? Maybe its just keeping parents updated on happenings in class. Or you want to spur conversation with your students. There are lots of ideas. The key is to find something to get your started but realize that the focus will change over time and that's ok.

So how about some more resources?

Lets look at the stuff for using your blog as a professional space:
Blogs By Discipline- I think its helpful to see how other educators are using their blogs. This site has a boat load of them listed out by discipline. Find yours and see what others are doing.
7 Reasons Teachers Should Blog-Still not convinced? Check out this excellent post from my friend Steve on why teachers, especially should blog. (His post on the reasons teachers don't blog is worth a read too.)
Blogging Secrets-Richard has a very, very popular blog. People ask him all the time on how to get their blog as popular as his. He gives great advice. While we disagree in some areas the advice is still solid and worth a read.
Getting To Know Your Blog-This is a wonderful post that lays it all out there. Everything you need to know to get started and do more with your blog, no matter the platform you use.
Using Blogs As A Part Of Your Personal Learning Network-Blogs are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse in your area or in education in general. Find out how by reading this post.

On to the Blogging In The Classroom resources:
The Best Sources For Advice On Classroom Blogging-This is my go-to source for everything classroom blogging related because it is updated constantly. Lots of great links to other sites and good information too.
Student Blogging Guidelines-If/When you get started with blogs with students you are gonna want some ground rules. This post goes through some simple guidelines you can use with your students.
Student Blogging Resources-There is more to consider than just the rules in your classroom. Your district might also have rules that you have to follow or forms you will need to send home. This site has sample permission forms, and examples of how blogs are used in the classroom.
Teaching Commenting Skills-One of the powerful parts of blogs are the comments. But kids might need help in getting theirs just right. This page, from an experienced classroom blogger walks you and your student through the process of learning how to comment, the right way.
Comments4Kids-Kids commenting on each other posts are great. But when they get those comments from people they dont know from another part of the world, thats just awesome. Comments4Kids is a great way to make that happen.
15 Topics For Your School Blog-Just some ideas to get you started.

This is just a handful of everything I have collected about blogs and blogging. I have tons more in my Diigo so be sure to head over there and check out everything there.

Like I mentioned before, I really do find blogging rewarding. So if you aren't a blogger and you want to be or you just need some help getting yours off the ground I hope you can use the resources found here.

What advice do you have for beginning bloggers or teachers that want to use blogs in the classroom? Leave some comments below.

Image under CC License from [martin]
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