Last weekend, I shared part one in a three-part mini-series detailing tips and tricks for classroom blogging projects—and it was a hit! Not only did the post draw a ton of attention, it also drew a ton of dialogue here on the Radical and in other blogs spread across cyberspace.
So I figured it was time to share a few more teacher tips for classroom blogging projects. Let’s see what you think of these suggestions, which all address cultivating and interacting with an audience:
Promote student blog entries to parents and colleagues
While writing for the Web ensures that your students will eventually have readers from every corner of the globe, the vast majority of your blog’s readers—and almost all of your commenters—are going to be the parents of your students, the students in the classrooms of your colleagues, and educators that you have made connections with in faraway locations.
Parents, colleagues and students in classrooms just like yours have a stake in the learning that your students are doing online. That’s what makes them willing to read what your kids are writing and to stop by to leave a comment every now and then.
Don’t let this discourage you! In fact, work hard to promote your students’ writings with parents and colleagues. Send out links to pieces that you’re particularly proud of or that are likely to stimulate exciting conversations. Ask parent volunteers to stop by once a week and leave feedback for the students who have posted new entries.
Not only do students need to receive feedback in order to remain motivated by your classroom blogging efforts, but feedback from those who matter—moms, dads, teachers and best friends—is often far more meaningful than the occasional comment left by an outsider, regardless of where they are from!
Remind students to respond to commenters.
As your blog begins to draw attention and starts to receive comments from readers, remind your students to respond to each comment directly, either in the comment section of their original entry or in a new post on your blog. By responding directly to readers, your students are showing their audience that they are listening—a key to encouraging return visits!
More importantly, however, responding to comments allows your students to take advantage of the primary benefit of writing for an audience: The ability to have thinking challenged over-and-over again.
Writers who make their core beliefs transparent are often introduced to new perspectives, and responding to those new perspectives—pushing back, refining original positions, articulating misunderstandings—is a critical part of the cycle of true learning.
Schedule regular readers for videoconference feedback sessions
If you carefully cultivate parents, peers and colleagues as regular readers who stop by to comment on the work that your students are publishing online, consider scheduling a videoconference to connect your students to a real member of their audience. By inviting a reader “into” your classroom, you automatically reinforce the idea that student voice really does matter.
Have your digital guest to describe what it is that they like the best about your student blog. Encourage them to share specific entries that they thought highly of and content strands that were motivating. Ask for areas of improvement.
Nothing can be more powerful to student writers than hearing from their readers—and hearing from readers is one digital step away!
The final part of this series will be posted sometime this weekend.