I will be the first to admit that paper blogging was not in any way my original idea. I actually saw the idea from several posts:
Paper Blogs: A Lesson in Commenting on Student Blogs
Learning to Blog Using Paper
Blogging Lesson Plan- Writing
Making Paper Blogs to Prepare for the Online Experience
I had searched for ideas on how to kick off blogging in my class that allowed me to give students the full experience, but in a systematic way. Since I kept running into the idea of paper blogging, I decided that there must be some educational value to it!
Writing their paper blog
Just like the other teachers who used the technique, I went through the different parts of what a blog post would look like. I created the graphic organizer on the left to look similar to a “New Post” page in Edublogger. I discussed what they should put into each field, including what to put for categories and tags. The students practiced writing down the categories and tags at the bottom of the page (see below for more information on how my team organized our blog posts).
Next, I gave them a writing prompt pertaining to what we’d been reading in class, Flowers for Algernon. There were five different choices to write about so that there wouldn’t be 177 posts on the exact same topic. I’d recommended that they write their post first, and then come up with their title after. I personally find it easier this way so that my title really encompasses what’s in my post.
The next day we started the commenting portion of the lesson. We began with the students taping their paper blog posts on the walls around the classroom. I then followed with a brief but well-made video on quality comments from Linda Yollis’ blog. We discussed what was considered a good and poor comment, and what was and wasn’t acceptable. After I was sure they understood, each student was given 5 Post-Its. Their task was to go around to five different blogs, read the post, and then leave a thoughtful comment. The rule was that there could be no more than five comments per blog post. If a blog post already had five Post-Its, they had to move on to one that didn’t.
At first it was chaotic in each class when I let them go, however they quickly became silent as they read each other’s posts intently. For the most part, students left good comments for each other. There were a couple of “I agree with u” or “This is gr8” comments, but I immediately drew attention to that and had students edit their comments.
Overall I think it was a wonderful learning moment for my students! They couldn’t wait to take their paper down and read the comments from the peers.
The following day my students began typing their posts from their paper blogs into an actual blog post on Edublogs. While we are no longer blogging as a team, you can still see the product of a school year’s worth of blog posts here.
How posts are organized
Since the class blog is shared with three other teachers who will be blogging with the students (we have mostly the same students between our classes), we had to come up with an organizational system. We didn’t want to be inundated with multiple posts from 177 students and have to scroll through them. Therefore each student’s username is a category, as well as each teacher. Whenever a student wrote a post, they would have to select their name and the teacher for whom they’re blogging under Categories. When a teacher needs to look at the posts that pertains to her class, she can sort the posts by her name, or she can also sort the students by clicking on that student’s username under “All Posts.”
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