Random Thoughts

Blogging, Classrooms, Clarence

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Today I sat down with the 8th grade team who asked me to come in and talk about blogging. All 8th graders have blogs and all of the teachers now how blog. But “Now what?”

I’ve only listened to half of Clarence Fisher’s Keynote for the k12online conference (Don’t want to ruin the LAN party fun!). He touches on how pedagogy has to change. Which is exactly what I told the 8th grade team today.

I sat down with them. All of us with laptops in hand and started by saying “If you are not going to commit to blogging…really commit to it, it will fail.” I think that shocked them a little bit. I’ve set up more blogs for teachers than I can count. Some have been very successful while others have stopped using them after a week.

What makes the difference is commitment. Not commitment to blogging or blogs, but commitment to changing your classroom…change the way things run, change the way things work, change your assignments.

Lucky for me I have been thinking a lot about how to sustain blogging in the classroom as my k12online presentation on that subject is released on Thursday this week.

It’s really no secret. You have to change the way your class runs, you can not add blogs to what you do, they have to become what you do! They have to become a learning tool, they can replace something you are already doing, or you will  have to rework your schedule to find a way to make them part of your classroom.

Teachers need to understand that blogging is not journaling…journaling is journaling. Blogging is a conversation, blogging is a reflection of thinking, a creation of knowledge all done in an open come-one-come-all format.

If you are not willing to change…then don’t blog!

[tags]k12online07, blogging, pedagogy[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Nice – I have started the same conversations with a group of teachers presently involved in year-long work to “change” their methods. I will be ready for your presentation tomorrow. I am also wondering if you use podpress for all your school blogs – do you have extensive wiki use?

    thanks Sharon

  2. Jeff – well said. We are starting to understand this on a practical level and it will be part of today’s faculty meeting. It is also interesting that this is critical to discuss with students too. At least here the students are really struggling with a shift from learning facts/content to thinking about content. They are so used to spitting out facts that they are at a complete loss when we say that it is not enough. At the Junior High Level it has been a struggle to stress understanding information and using it in part because they do not understand that school has changed.

  3. To coin a phrase that David Jakes used recently in his blog, the use of blogs needs to be integral to the learning to be successful – learning in which our students are using thinking skills not just repeating or restating what they’ve learned. Yes, I do think there’s some change in practice involved in order to do this.

  4. Jeff, I just started blogging this year. I am doing it weekly or every 2 weeks and I like it – but I’m not sure where I’m going with it. I teach high school math. Have you seen any good ideas out there?

  5. PS – you are totally right. I have gone to look for math blogs to find that people have started and then just stopped. You have to commit to the changes and follow through with them!

  6. It is such a good point. This is my first year using blogs with students and I was totally surprised that most of my students had never blogged before (I teach high school)! So my focus has really been about getting them to start a conversation. Right now, it is just with each other, online. Soon I will venture into having them share their thoughts with the world, but I want to give them some basics first. One thing I have noticed is that my students really seem to pick up on it quickly. I think it is because they use other social networks frequently, so it really does not take very long.

    The pivotal moment for me was when I started commenting on blogs. I have been passively reading them for years, but this year I finally started participating. That is when I knew I had to make sure my students were doing this.

  7. Tara Allen Reply

    Thought this was interesting to read because I am now starting to think that I am actually journaling what is happening in Grade 1 rather than blogging. How do you get 6 year olds to blog? Is it blogging if they are reflecting on their learning and sharing their learning with their parents or would you say this is journaling?

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Hi Tara,

      I would say that’s journalling for the most part. Are there blogs getting comments from others around the world? Are you, or them, sharing them on #comments4kids on twitter? Are students allowed to blog about anything they want or are the blog posts more or less assignments they are required to do? The answers to those, in my mind, help me with the difference. Nothing wrong with what you’re doing. Learning to journal publically is a great start!

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