This is my first year blogging so it’s very new to me. However, I’m surprised at how easy the whole process is to use. So, after starting the Seomra Ranga blog, I decided to see what it would be like to start a blog with my 2nd class this year. After reading and gaining encouragement from some posts on the Education Posts forum, I decided to set up a class blog with Edublogs (http://edublogs.org/) which allows you to set up blogs specifically for teachers and students. A blog set up with Edublogs is also less likely to be blocked by the Schools Broadband Network.
Setting up a class blog with Edublogs was really easy and it was ready and organised within minutes. All you have to do is sign up on the homepage, select a name (eg. http://myblog.edublogs.org) and the blog is set up. You can then choose from a selection of templates and customise them as you please. The Dashboard (the area where you compile your posts) is also really easy to use. You simply give each post a heading, type in the post, give it some tags (these are just keywords to describe your posts to allow the blog to be searchable), and click “publish”. It’s as easy as that! Adding media to the blog is also just as easy, although I have to admit that it’s mostly just pictures I put on my class blog. To insert a picture, you just click the image icon, find the picture on your computer and choose to upload it. A thumbnail will be automatically be created and added to the gallery of your blog, and you then just choose to insert it into the post.
My pupils are really enthused about the whole idea of having work published to the world via the class blog. The revised curriculum asks that when children are writing that they write with different audiences in mind, and what better audience than the whole world! The way I work it in the class is that I usually get the pupils to work in pairs to write a post about a particular piece of work that we were doing in class or in the school. They write their post on sheets of paper from our reusable paper box, so they know there is no great compulsion on them to have their joined writing at its pristine best (even though they are really good at their cursive script which they only started in September). Spelling also is not a concern which allows the pupils great freedom to write. You also get to see great editing work done on these sheets of paper as there tends to be lots of scribbling out, words changed, words added in. I then usually work with the pairs in typing the post into the blog in class.
However, it’s at this stage of the process where I run into some difficulties. Our broadband in the school is really poor and it sometimes takes ages for a post to upload, sometimes it doesn’t upload at all. More often than not, I end up typing the posts with the pupils into a MS Word document, bringing the document home and uploading it there where it uploads straight away with no difficulties. I have already abandoned the idea of trying to upload any images/pictures to the blog in school, so I just automatically just bring these home and upload them there. Of course, this does take the whole immediacy of blog posting away from the pupils but with the strength of the broadband connection in school so poor, I really have no choice. This is a shame but I’ve already wasted so much class time just waiting on posts to upload in school that it just cannot be justified any more. On the positive side, the pupils really get a kick out of seeing their art work, their written work or their photos on the blog, and of course it’s almost like a form of Cuntas Míosúil! Setting up a blog with Edublogs is free, however just before Christmas I found out that I had almost reached my 20MB quota of webspace. You have two options: you can delete some of the earlier posts or you can become a “Supporter” and have 5GB of webspace. I went for the former option as I didn’t like the idea of getting rid of some of our earlier work after all the effort that had gone into creating it. Becoming a Supporter also means that you get some extra functionality (which I mostly don’t use) and it also means that you don’t have any advertising on your blog. The cost of this I think was around €29.
Hopefully, this post may encourage other teachers to keep a record of work done in the class by using a blog as a medium to do this. Our class blog is not by any means the best in the world as both pupils and teacher are learning the process as we go along. However, we are proud of our small contribution to the web and have had good fun so far this year blogging. Have a look at our effort here: