10 + 1 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging

IMG_2138Last summer, I had the pleasure of guest blogging for Middle Web and chose to do it on student blogging.  While I had started with a 14 step plan, I was able to revamp it a bit and bring it down to 11 steps.  Since then many educators have asked how to best get started with blogging, so I bring to you a re-posting of this popular post.

Four years ago I started blogging with my 4th grade students on a whim. I knew three things at the start: I wanted to get them connected with each other; I wanted to give them a voice, and I knew I had to change the way they wrote. So I started blogging with them – fumbling my way through the how to and the when to.

What I had no way of knowing was how blogging would change the way I…

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How Not to Integrate Technology

After reading this wacky post “Encouraging Teachers to use Technology” I had to respond with a heartycongratulations!After all, this article highlights many of the things we so diligently try to avoid whenintroducinganythingunknown to people; rewards, punishment, fear. So let’s think about it for a moment; how could you make sure that no one wants to ever integrate technology:
  • Outdated equipment – with scrunched school budgets and schools falling into disrepair, this is a common culprit. Who wants to use technology when thecomputerlooks like an extra from the original 90210? Well some people make do and even do great things but to get more people to truly integrate you may have to invest a little bit of money.
  • Listening sessions only on how to use it. Teacherslove to talk and boy when explaining technology and how cool it is, we can get rather winded. How about letting people try it…

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So What’s My Problem With Public Behavior Charts?

There is certainly enough segregation in our world…the have/have nots and countless other categories and labels. Our classrooms can be a place to break away from those categories…a place where children from different backgrounds and ethnicities work together. Sometimes, it might be the only time they have an opportunity to be free from those labels and work together to see how alike they really are and begin to break down the stereotypes, bias, and labels…Of course, we must maintain a sense of order to provide an environment where work can be accomplished and there are many ways to achieve this through those vital relationships and individual connections we foster with our students.

image borrowed from Kimberley Moran – see her great post on how to move past behavior charts linked at the bottom of the post

The day starts out fine, you had your breakfast, you had your tea, you feel prepared, happy even.  You are off to school and ready to teach.  At the morning staff meeting you get so excited over an idea you lean over to your colleague to whisper in their ear.   After all, they really need to hear this.  “Mrs. Ripp, please move your clip.”  Shocked, you look around and feel every set of eyes on you.  You stand up, walk to the front, move your clip from the top of the chart to yellow or whatever other step down there is.  Quietly you sit down, gone is your motivation for the day, you know it can only get worse from here.

Ridiculous right?  After all…

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How to Unleash the Uncreative Children

Choice and voice is so powerful! 🙂

image from icanread

I was a dreadfully uncreative child.  Sure, I would draw trees, flowers, animals, but whenever someone told me to unleash my creativity, my heart sank and my page usually stayed empty.  Writing was slightly better, but I tended to stay on tangents so much that even I couldn’t tell my stories apart after awhile.  And singing?  While I loved to sing, I couldn’t just create something out of thin air no matter how hard I wanted to.  No, I would never be a jazz singer.

When I look back on my childhood I see that I was probably not alone.  Many of my friends weren’t explosively creative either and while these days when we have uncreative children we tend to blame our school system, I think it was just the way we were.  We didn’t know how to be creative so we weren’t.

I see this play…

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The Fatherhood Project

Truly amazing!

808 [the adventures]

When our good friend Corbyn Tyson asked us to participate in an episode of The Fatherhood Project that he was creating for SoulPancake, I was a bit uncertain. Now, however — well, the episode speaks for itself:

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Why “God” is not the answer.

Loving our children for who they are and where they are….

808 [the adventures]

If you are a person of faith then we have all have a common ground, don’t we? We believe that good came down and brought hope and peace to a messed up world. We believe that everyone has access to that hope and peace if they want it. We also believe that hope and peace are our cornerstone, rock, and anchor.

Where our common ground gets muddied is when God becomes the universal answer for struggle or success. What’s the answer for that hurting person? “God”. What’s wrong with that person? “They don’t have God.” Why does that family have it so hard? “They must not pray to God.” Why is that family so blessed? “God”.

Now, we don’t (or at least I would hope not) say it quite that bluntly. But we may think it. Because surely, if something is wrong, or tension is felt, or doubt and the…

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Wise Words

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 
― Maya Angelou

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