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Student blogging empowers students to take charge of their learning, gives their learning purpose while helping with reading, writing, digital citizenship, artistic, critical thinking, and social skills.

Student blogging programs are often teacher-led.  But it doesn’t need to be this way!

Students can gain so much from student-led blogging projects.  So I asked Noelle and Sagarika, Grade 8 Students, from The Badger Rock Times to tell us on their own words the benefits of their blogging project.

About the Student-Led Blogging Project

Earlier this year, I received a message from Mr. Kaio at Badger Rock Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin letting me know what a great job his students had done using Edublogs for the blogging project he had assigned to his Language Arts classes.

Two students in particular, Noelle Livingston and Sagarika Pal, did exceptionally well with the project and won the school’s News Blog Award. After discussing the project in more detail with Mr. Kaio and her students, I learned that as the student editors of their class blog Noelle and Sagarika were responsible for all aspects of the blog – from creating and editing content to generating interest in and increasing the readership of their blog. They basically got a real, honest-to-goodness introduction to the life of a professional blogger!

When discussing the blogging process with Noelle and Sagarika, their enthusiasm about the project was evident. It was also clear that they had learned a lot from the experience. It seemed like a subject worth sharing with other Edubloggers, and I agreed to do a post about their experience for our blog.

Not too long after I began writing my post, however, it dawned on me that Noelle and Sagarika are experienced bloggers and editors now, and I should let them tell you in their own words…

Lessons From “The Badger Rock Times”

by Noelle Livingston and Sagarika Pal

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It’s second quarter and we (two nerdy eighth graders) have just been chosen to be the editors of our class blog. The blog will consist of articles, essays, poems, and later on art work, a scavenger hunt, and a favorite song chosen by our class.

"The Frog." Student origami featured in the Badger Rock Times.
Student origami titled “Frog” from the Badger Rock Times.

Our blog helped our class become more motivated to write, improve our writing skills, and become more comfortable putting our pieces out into the real world. With an audience other than our language arts teacher, we were motivated to put more effort into our work!

The first step in our editorial process was to get kids to start writing. We asked them to write pieces and then submit them in to be edited. The pieces centered around the writing that Mr. Kaio assigned for the quarter – articles and informational essays, but could include many different genres. The first pieces tended to come from our more advanced students, but after a while the submissions came from a larger and more diverse range of students.

Once a piece was sent in, we corrected grammatical mistakes as well as capitalization and punctuation issues. We also dealt with the content, asking our peers to dig deeper into their topics. We asked them to provide more details, supply more evidence, and add quotes. After they had fixed what they thought needed to be changed, they sent it back to us for another edit.

This part of the process sometimes went on for a few days until both the editor and the student felt the piece fit both of our needs. After everyone felt the piece was ready, we copied and pasted it into Edublogs, and added details like the date, name, and pictures before posting it.

For most students, the editorial process was pretty easy, and they were willing to receive feedback. For a handful of students it wasn’t that simple though. Some students didn’t like the fact that their peers were commenting on their pieces and essentially trying to change parts of it. For one individual it was particularly hard. Maybe it was pride; maybe it was ignorance. For some reason this person was not okay with us suggesting changes for their piece. Unfortunately, we ended up not putting up that student’s piece, because they were unwilling to change any aspects of their writing. From that particular experience we learned that not everyone is always cooperative, even if you go into the conversation with an open mind and willing hands. Also, if we worked at a real blog, we would have totally fired them!

In the last few weeks of posting our pieces on Edublogs, we noticed that most people weren’t very active when it came to reading and contributing comments to the blog. So, we decided to upgrade our blog with some new categories. The categories included an art gallery where students could feature their art pieces, a weekly top 100 Billboard song that the students voted on, and a scavenger hunt.

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“Reading Magic” by Sagarika Pal.

For the art pieces, we asked our class artists to send in their art to post. Noelle took a picture of their art with her phone and posted the picture to the blog. For the the weekly song, we picked five songs from the top 100 Billboard for that week. The class picked their favorite from the five and we posted it. For the scavenger hunt we posted a new clue and a piece of a password every day. By the end of the week, there were enough clues to figure out where the prize was hidden, and a password to give to the guard. The prize was hidden with a person in our school, and once you gave the password to them you received the prize. It sure got their attention! We realized that we provide incentive to the other kids benefit to get them involved. This was an important lesson because it will help us with future jobs and relationships.

In the end, “The Badger Rock Times” was a huge success and helped our class become closer, as well as better writers. Not only did we have fun, but our class created a victorious blog, complete with art, poetry, articles, essays, and a scavenger hunt. The most important thing that we came out of this experience with was if you put your mind to something you can make it happen.

About Jason

CampusPress|Edublogs Account Manager -- It's a great feeling knowing that every day I go to work helping teachers and students use blogging as a means of sharing their knowledge and passions with their friends, families and peers all over the world. Connect with me using @Edublogs_Jason on Twitter.

39 Comments

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing us the list. very useful.

  2. Blogging with students leading is a great idea! What a good way for students to be able to take initiative and to help engage them in learning and writing. This would be a good incentive for students to be able to take ownership and work together in order to put their ideas out there.

  3. Blogging can be a great resource for the secondary level students. I teach fifth grade so my students are a bit young for this. Blogging is a great opportunity for students to connect with other students from around the country/world.

    • Do your students blog at all? Fifth grade may be a bit young to put them in charge of the whole process, but blogging can be a great exercise for students of all ages.

      • Jason Teitelman
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      • Yes, fifth grade might be bit too soon, but one got to start somewhere and I think it’s good for them to explore new things at starting stages. As we all know kids do learn things really fast.

  4. You are right. I am in a technology class now as part of my credential program and I am learning about so many new tools I can use in the classroom. Also, I am learning myself as well! Thanks for sharing!

  5. This piece is so informative. I currently teach middle school ELA in a Self-Contained Special Education classroom. I am looking for ways to really engage my students while at the same time teaching them valuable ELA material, such as editing, spelling, and writing. All of my students have learning disabilities and really enjoy hands-on, tactile, activities. I think this would be an amazing class project. Having them create a classroom blog will not only allow them to be creative in designing the blog, but will teach them valuable skills in core curriculum, as well as build community within the classroom. Community building is extremely important, especially in a self-contained middle school classroom. I am definitely going to use EduBlog to create a classroom blog. Thank you so much for bringing awareness about this way of using blogs in the classroom.

    • Ginger Laforestrie
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    • Hi Ginger. Thanks for your reply. I was actually looking around the other day to see if I could find any Edublogs being used for Special Education students. I thought it would be interesting to highlight how blogs are being used in Special Education classrooms. Please let us know how it works out for your class!

      • Jason Teitelman
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    • how can i ask my students to blog if most of their time is using social media? i think we need to think of win-win solution regarding to this one.

      • JEFFREY ESPIRITU
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      • Hi Jeffery. My first inclination is to say “You’re the teacher!” If you decide to make it part of your curriculum, then it is something they will have to make part of their day for your course. Also, if they are already using social media, then transitioning to blogging should be fairly simple for them. Learning how to use a new platform always has its challenges, but once they get used to the interface, they’ll find a blog is simply another tool for sharing their thoughts. The nice thing about a blog is it a platform that encourages more in-depth writing than a tweet or status update. Blogging provides a great way for students who are used to writing short posts online to transion to more meaningful online writing.

        • Jason Teitelman
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  6. I love this idea! Student-led activities are a great way to keep students engaged and motivated. I am looking to incorporate blogging into my classroom as a type of journal for different stories we read.

  7. I love this idea. I am looking for ways that I can incorporate blogging in my school and I think it is important to take into account what students would like to see and hear from their classmates. I think it is great that after a while of not seeing many comments or interaction you adjusted the blog with more categories with more categories that would interest more students. Blogs are so customizable and you can change them as you go. Students can be contributors as well as editors and make decisions on design, layout, and even content. I think this is a great example of a successful classroom blog.

  8. I love the idea of project based learning! As an English Education major, I am continually looking for new ways to integrate technology into my future lesson plans. I keep looking for different websites that would be of good use but it can be quite difficult. One website that I did happen upon is http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/default_flash.asp. This is a website that is specifically tailored to Edgar Allen Poe. How do you think this website would contribute in a project on poems? Would you suggest other websites over this one? Thanks!

    • What will be the benefits of blogging to the students

      • JEFFREY ESPIRITU
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      • Blogging will have benefits to students in their writing and communication skills. It will make them more proficient in using classroom technology. It gives them a creatinve outlet and helps with critical thinking, when the assigments require it. I really could go on and on. A lot of the benefits your students will get depends on how you choose to use your class blog and what type of assignments/projects they do. If you search for the web for “benefits of student blogging” I doubt you’ll have any issues finding pages and pages of unique answers.

        • Jason Teitelman
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  9. What an awesome concept! I’m currently studying to be an English teacher, and am curious about how it was possible to keep your students motivated when it came to participation. Was it because it was student-led? I’d love to know more strategies!

    • Student led projects (with occasional teacher guidance) are always the easiest for us to focus on. It lets us feel like we’re in control, which ultimately makes us want to learn more!

      • Noelle and Sagarika
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  10. this is something useful in our daily life………thank u very much for the help

  11. really nice

    • Thank you so much, it was a blast, and we learned quite a few valuable lessons. -Noelle and Sagarika

      • Noelle and Sagarika
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  12. wow its so beautiful

    • Thank you tuana36,
      We had a lot of fun doing this project, and we are happy other people enjoy it too!

      • Noelle and Sagarika
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  13. Hi I am Nirmal
    I would like to know whether I can use such ideas in teacher training college library or any thing else for library activities?
    Thanks

    • I think the simple answer is yes! Blogging can be adapted to any type of coursework. The key is to figure out how it will work best in your course. Sometimes it may be best as a simple personal reflection journal, or it could work as a content aggregator where people can save notes, documents, etc. Other times, it may work best as a collaborative body of work where multiple students contribute and cooperate to create the blog. The possibilities are virtually endless; you just need to think about how a blog can become a valuable part of your course.

      • Jason Teitelman
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      • Thanks a lot for quick reply

  14. Thank you, Jason, for publicising the voices of Noelle and Sagarika, and showcasing their activities as class blog editors.

    Their summary of blog content decision-taking and explanation of the production process was remarkable, especially the part about “grammatical mistakes such as capitalization and punctuation” (Lessons from The Badger Rock Times, ¶4). On that bit of content, in retrospect, I feel it would have been interesting to mirror their process with them, since that bit suggested they’d conceived of capitalization and punctuation as components of grammar.

    The Badger Rock Times editors’ observation “that most people [in their class] weren’t very active when it came to reading and contributing comments to the blog” was telling (¶7). That observation resonated with a remark a colleague made yesterday expressing doubt whether student authors in undergraduate classes he teaches at another university actually were reading comments on their individual blogs. Though the Times editors’ blend of novel and engaging content arguably mitigated inactivity on the readership and commentary front, modest measures of modelling, instruction, encouragement, and coercion (read: assessment) could be contributions teachers make to student-led blogging projects.

    Production of The Badger Rock Times just seemed to be getting up to speed from less than 10 posts per month in Nov. and Dec. 2015, to 22 posts in Jan. 2016, when they pulled the plug (The Last Post, 2016.01.25). I certainly hope that the student editors’ (collective) educational blogging careers didn’t end when the academic quarter did, and that their work will remain readily accessible to serve as a foundation and model for future bloggers and blog editors.

    • Paul Beaufait
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    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for such a well thought out reply. I do have to say that the bit about grammar, punctuation and capitalization was not an error on the girls’ part, but rather a mistake I made when helping them edit the piece. I forget what the original sentence was, but I made an edit and in doing so removed the distinction between grammar, punctuation and capitalization. I believe they had it phrased correctly and I caused the error. We simply didn’t catch my mistake on the final proof. I will have to go back and correct that!

      • Jason Teitelman
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      • Thank you, Jason, for clearing that up right away.

        • Paul Beaufait
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      • Hi! I was just reading through your post and comments when I came across this one! I know that even as a college student grammar can be hard to figure out sometimes. As I was working on a project a couple weeks ago, I came across this really cool site called Quill.org. It’s an interactive website that allows students to work on their grammar. My major is English Education so I was wondering what your take on this site would be? Do you think it is an effective tool to use in the classroom or as homework? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Thanks!

    • Our journey hasn’t ended here, not only have we taken the skills we’ve learned from our blog and used them in every day situations, but we’ve started getting published by other people. It’s so much fun, and we’ve definitely felt a boost in opportunities -Noelle and Sagarika

      • Noelle and Sagarika
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      • What a pleasure it is to hear that you, Noelle and Sagarika, have been able not only to transfer skills from blog editing to everyday situations, but also to enjoy a range of other publishing opportunities.

        I hope you’ll feel free to shout out again here either with examples of situations to which you found particular skills eminently transferrable, or with news of and pointers to work you’ve published elsewhere.

        • Paul Beaufait
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  15. How could I adapt this idea to a college freshmen composition class?

    • Hi Elizabeth. The possibilities are endless. One idea would be to have group news blogs where students could be split into groups to run a news or magazine style blog about school happenings or whatever topic they may find interesting. Then make them responsible for producing, editing and sharing content. Otherwise, you could make a class-wide blog and have students pick roles they are interested in — writing, editing, social media sharing, etc. Students could rotate positions every couple of weeks so that they all get a chance to see what part of the publishing process they like the most.

      Then lessons you teach in class can then be incorporated into the blog. Perhaps there could be a reflection category on the blog as well where each student submits posts about how they applied what they learned in class to what they contributed to the blog that week.

      • Jason Teitelman
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      • Thank you! I will work on this.

      • Hi Jason!
        You are absouletly right.

  16. I love project based lessons and having the students lead their own learning. Those are always the projects you remember best as an adult (and the one you learned the most from as a kid!)

    • Frank Cademartori
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    • Thanks for the comment Frank. I whole-heartedly agree!

      • Jason Teitelman
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    • We definitely learned a lot, it was a blast! -Noelle and Sagarika

      • Noelle and Sagarika
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