If you want to connect with classes around the world while helping your students learn more about blogging in a structured way, you might be interested in the Student Blogging Challenge.
The ten week challenge runs twice a year beginning in March and October.
The Student Blogging Challenge is totally free and a fun way for students of all ages to learn and connect.
The 20th Student Blogging Challenge starts on March 4.
Sue Wyatt (@tasteach) is in charge of the Student Blogging Challenge. While now retired, she has helped countless educators and students with their own blogging journeys over the last decade.
To commemorate the 20th challenge and help spread the word about this fabulous opportunity, I asked Sue some questions about the challenge.
Have a read and be sure to leave a comment if you have any further queries. Sue will be happy to get back to you.
1. How did the challenge start?
I began blogging with my class in early 2008 but quickly realized the only people commenting on the student blogs were myself and the students. I wanted them to discover there was a world outside their small town, so I contacted Sue Waters, my blogging mentor.
We tweeted about great posts and other teachers also asked to join in the commenting with their classes.
I recently wrote a post that looked back at the early challenges.
2. Who can participate?
There are three ways to participate:
- Using a class blog: You can use any blogging platform but when I give specific instructions it is for Edublogs. There are user guides as links for other platforms such as Kidblog, Blogger, WordPress and Weebly
- Students with their own personal blog: Often attached to a class blog
- Educators can be commenters: Used to be called mentors but the role has changed this year
Your class can be involved as a class blog or each student with their own blog can be involved in the student section of the challenge. If students don’t have their own blog, they might want to leave comments instead. There will also be activities for a whole class to do.
3. How does the challenge work?
The challenge is about getting students to blog and develop a worldwide audience while doing so, rather than just having their teacher and classmates look at their work.
The Student Blogging Challenge runs twice yearly.
- It is made up of a series of 10 weekly tasks all designed to improve blogging and commenting skills while connecting students with a global audience.
- Participants can complete as many of the tasks as they like and in any order.
- If you are an educator, you can also register to comment on a small group of students’ blogs.
- Once registered, students and classes then have access to a spreadsheet with all the participants sorted by age, so they can then visit others with similar interests.
Below is a list of what students had the chance to do in ten weeks in a previous challenge:
Write blog posts:
- Why did you join the challenge?
- Write a post on global issues
- Favourite interests
- Favourite holidays or countries to visit
- Storytelling using images
- How to write a post that invites comments
- Favourite blogs you visit
- What did you learn from other bloggers?
- Positive digital footprints
- Creating commenting guidelines
- Comparing and replying to comments
- Commenting habits after eight weeks of the challenge
- Visiting posts from overseas students and classes to leave comments
Non written posts:
- Images only
- Using embed code for links in comments and widgets
- Create avatar
- About page
- Translation widget
- Weather widget
- Create blogroll
- Add badges
- Tracking visitors
- Using tags and categories
Many of these activities are run every time in the challenge. The first three weeks are the most important as we cover avatars, about me pages, commenting, and Creative Commons images.
Other weeks are based on a theme such as food, culture, immigration, free choice, games and so on.
4. What benefits have others got out of participating in the challenge?
Below are comments from three students who were invited to put together posters for me to use at an ISTE conference where there was a poster session about the challenge:
My writing skills have really developed from the beginning of the year, thanks to all of the different activities. I have learned new ways to add to my blog such as widgets and adding proper photo credit to all photos.
~ Anna USA
I learned so much during this challenge about commenting, Creative Commons, global connection, writing posts, and blogging all together. Thank you for giving us a place where we can challenge ourselves and connect with other people who took on the same challenge.
~ Olivia Portugal
This was my first time doing the Student Blogging Challenge, and already I have learnt so many skills, and new websites on the internet. It has also helped me meet and connect with people all over the world.
Blogging is a way to express ourselves and I love to blog, and through my blog, I express my thoughts, ideas, and experiences, to my class, to my country and to the world.
~ Meghana New Zealand
A few other comments from previous challenge audits include:
- One of the most important things that I learned was how different countries write and live everyday.
- I have learned a lot of lessons from the posts we wrote about. Mostly on the one about leaving a digital footprint, because it really taught me how to treat and be treated online.
- (I have learned) to be creative and think outside the box. I tend to be an over achiever and I love to be creative but this blogging challenge has been really fun because of that.
- I have learned that sometimes you just have to make the boring things fun by adding your personality to it.
- The children really enjoyed hearing from students from all over the world. They became more aware of the similarities and differences (in a good way) between us e.g. time differences, use of language and where we live.
- As a teacher, it enabled me to reinforce an array of technological skills in the classroom.
- I noticed that I was recognized a few times throughout the challenge and that helped my confidence not just in the challenge but overall. That experience also helped me try just a little bit harder in each one of my posts.
5. What can people do if they’re interested in taking part?
There are a few things you can do
Register your class blog and / or student blogs using the registration forms.
Sign up for email updates by filling in the subscription widget on the right sidebar of the challenge blog.
Add the link and badge
If you have a class blog, make sure the link to the challenge blog is on your blogroll somewhere to make it easy for your students to find the challenges.
You might create a link attached to the Student Blogging Challenge badge. There is a new 2018 badge and a post that explains how to add the badge to your blog sidebar.
If you would prefer, you can copy and paste the challenges into your own class blog and adapt them to suit the needs of your students.
Publish a post
On your class blog and / or student blog, have a great post that people can start visiting and leaving comments on as soon as they have registered.
Mainly, keep reminding the students of the challenge and allow them time in and out of school to complete at least one of the activities each week.
We thank Sue for sharing this fabulous information about the challenge. We’d also like to offer our congratulations to Sue for organizing 20 challenges. What a milestone!
Will you be taking part in the Student Blogging Challenge?
Feel free to leave a comment with any questions and Sue will get back to you.