Using blogs as a reflection tool in the classroom can be powerful. I know a few teachers using blogs in ELA classes but nobody using them in math. I thought I would take a few posts to describe my process for using blogs with my middle schoolers in math.
First, the set-up. This part is a little time consuming, but worth it later. So my advice is to take the time needed in the beginning to do these things:
1. Create a class blog
I use blogger and just created a new blog for my class. I actually did two, one for my regular math classes and one for advanced math class (in case I want to assign different posts). You can check them out here and here.
2. Get students to create the blogs
Next I had students use blogger and create their own math blog. A few tips:
-have students only use their first and last initial when setting up the blog
-pick a uniform format for the blog address. I used first name last initial mathblog.blogspot.com
-Go over privacy things with students. Many might not know how blogs work and that they are public to anyone. They should never share last names or addresses.
-Go over expectations for appropriate content
3. Follow each student's blog on your blog by using a blog list
On your blog, add a blog list and include all the student's blogs. This takes a while because you have to type in each student's blog address. It is worth it later, though, so don't skip this step. I organized the blogs by class periods to make them easier to find. It is also nice because I can quickly look at the blog list and see the title of the most recent post, letting me know who most likely did the latest assignment.
4. Teach students how to create a post
Start simple. Teach students how to create a post. Explain the difference between saving and publishing. Show them how to edit posts or delete them, if needed. Show them how to view their blog and see what people see when they visit their blog.
5. Put post assignments on your blog.
Post assignments that you want students to do on your blog. Give students you blog's address and have them go there to find instruction on what they should post.
So, there's the basics to get blogs up and running in your math class. I'll be posting in future posts about how I manage blogs, give feedback, and other little tricks I've learned along the way. Happy blogging!