Yesterday I took the leap with my fifth graders, we started blogging! I was subconsciously procrastinating this moment because I knew it came with a lot of implications for privacy and digital responsibility. But as we move forward with inquiry groups, I knew I had no more time to wait.
I decided to use EduBlogs as my platform based on the blog that Kathy Cassidy uses. I set up my own teacher home page for the blog and then was struck with the conundrum of how to go about the complicated process of setting up each student blog and keeping my students safe.
The first thing we did as a class was talk about digital citizenship. I showed the graphic that many of us have used this quarter. We went through each piece step by step and talked about how it relates to their lives as fifth graders online. The students loved this conversation! They had so many insights to share and fortunately a great deal of it was common sense for them. Our students at this point are really savvy when it comes to technology. The conversation ended up being more of a refresher.
After our conversation, I explained to the students that we would be building a public blog for our class. We talked about what you do and do not post when it’s public to the world. I also explained that we’ll be using aliases for the blog. I had the kids brainstorm what they wanted their pseudonym to be, put it on a post-it note, and turn it in to me.
At this point, the kids were so excited to get started. I had shared Kathy Cassidy’s blog with them and they were ready to show that they could blog even better than the first graders. (Talk about motivation!)
I was really intimidated by actually setting up the blogs, but then I found the most helpful tutorial ever! This website gave me an 11-step overview of how to set up student blogs while picking which privacy settings I wanted. It also gave me multiple reasons to use a public blog that I was able to share with my fifth grade parents over email. I actually ended up using a lot of the language from this tutorial in my email home to families. So far, I haven’t had a single parent be concerned about the blogging and both of my administrators are on board and excited.
The final pro-tip I learned from setting up these blogs is something that has basically changed my life as a teacher who frequently uses technology. Google has an incredible system that I knew nothing about! It turns out, you can set up an email address through Gmail (like a classroom email – ex: firstname.lastname@example.org). You can then use this email with the Gmail + function as a unique email account for each student account you create. Example: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Each of these counts as a unique address, but everything after the + sign is disregarded and all mail is sent to the original email address! This means that the students don’t need their own email address to set up accounts for websites we use in the classroom.
Truly, this changed my life. In a very geeky I-love-technology-in-my-classroom way.
I’m so excited to get started now that we’re set up! I can’t wait to continue sharing throughout this blogging journey. To keep updated, check out our class blog here!