Giving Voice to Teachers & Students with Blogger

by Bruce Harris

Every day as I do work in our great school district I come across teachers doing some amazing and innovative things with the technology tools and apps they are being provided with. The “G-Suite for Education” contains an amazing set of tools, including the now more well known Docs, Slides, Drawings, and Classroom. A lesser known tool found in the Google Apps Suite is Blogger that makes it easy to instantly publish short text pieces. A blog is really a simple web page, containing short, informal, and frequently updated posts. Here in Northside the impact of Google is being felt across the district as teachers and students move towards being more innovative and truly integrating technology. Google Blogger makes it easy for teachers to create a blog, and post text, pictures, and get feedback from students, parents, and a broader community.

Here is what a few of the educators I work with have said about Blogger:

   "Blogger is an excellent user-friendly tool that can take the shyest of writers and help them feel like a free-lance personal news reporter. It opens a world of communication between writer and reader seldom seen anywhere else."
-Malissa Mobley Librarian
http://RivetedtoReading.blogspot.com
   “Because I wanted to give my Passmore writers an authentic audience, I decided to look into blogging. I could not have imagined the excitement students have when they open and read a reply to their posts from classmates and teachers. I have noticed that attention to sentence structure and grammar has improved because students are writing for the reader and not just to receive a grade. They are wanting to get their point across to the audience.
   This was my first attempt ever with blogging and I'm still learning something new every day. I’m currently keeping a portfolio-type of blog, documenting student work and progress. Later in the year, I could see myself expanding towards incorporating student choice and interests.”
-Melissa Medrano Reading Specialist
http://passmorevoice.blogspot.com/
   “Second graders blogging and parents using social media to communicate with their kids, sounds crazy but we made it happen at Passmore Elementary. My second grade class used multimedia to increase student writing skills and parental involvement at home. Students, wrote and published their own articles, even inserting photos and parents responded to the articles with comments and the student’s commented back, creating an online dialogue.  As a result I was able to make a record of student progress on line, through their writing. Their voice in writing came alive as the students knew it will be read by their classmates, teachers and parents. Integrating technology across the curriculum is a great tool for teachers, is fun for the students and interactive for the parents.”
- Rosa Jonasz 2nd Grade DL Teacher
   “Although Blogger is new to us this year, it has been easy to use and communicate with students.”
-Teresa Bracey 4th Grade Teacher

Blogger is a little harder to find app in the GSuite. You can find it from your GMail, by clicking your App Launcher, then choose more,and finally select Even more from Google. Or just go to www.blogger.com

There are a variety of styles and themes to choose from, but my recommendation is to just get started and try it. You can always make changes and adjustments later. Blogging is a great practice for teachers as a tool for reflection and showcasing what works in your classroom.  According to Tom Whitby, a nationally known author, speaker and consultant; “Blogs are giving voice to educators who have often been closed out of the discussions of education taking place around the country.” When a teacher starts to reflect and write via a blog they can express themselves and share with colleagues around the globe. Not to mention a place where you can model reflection and the writing process for students and even give them a voice too! Twitter is a great source to find, recommend and advertise your own blog. Whitby goes on to say: “Blogs have become a great tool for educators and the profession of education. We need to utilize this potential to share, collaborate, and move forward in a fast-paced, ever-changing world that we have been assigned to prepare generations of kids to live in. If educators cannot remain relevant, they will not remain influential with the very people who should be feeling the effect of their teaching -- their students.” Source: Edutopia: Do Educators Really Need Blog Posts? JUNE 10, 2014