How I Use It
We use this for bi-weekly blogs to extend learning out of the classroom. For instance, in our civics class we may be discussing civil rights and the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Students will then respond to a blog about this by finding current events on this topic and analyzing the rights protected or denied in that particular situation. We also use it to compare situations, gather student opinion (especially about hot topics), and analyze world situations. We spend the beginning of the year focusing on blog etiquette and tone so students understand the appropriate way to effectively express their opinions, especially when addressing sensitive topics. We also look at punctuation and grammar. Students are graded on these using a rubric that looks at grammar, content, and the effectiveness of the blog to extend the discussion. Responses of "I agree" do not count and are discouraged. Many of my quiet students have used the blog as a way to make their voices heard. This is also a way for students to be exposed to differing opinions in a non-threatening environment. The students love it and have actually asked for more blogs!
Blogging has become a critical part of the 21st century world and Edublogs helps students learn these skills in a safe environment. The teacher can set up multiple class pages or have all classes participate in a single blog. Blog sites can be customized with themes, widgets, and other plug ins. Students can respond both to the teacher and to their peers, depending on the set up of the blog. There is a dashboard that allows the teacher to establish blog policies and procedures, as well determine privacy and posting limitations. We tried other sites and quickly came back to Edublogs. They are located in Australia but have excellent technical support so location is not a big deal. I would highly recommend this product because it is easy to use, safe, and a great teaching tool!