I recently had my two classes of high school students set up blogs through wordpress.com. My purpose is to use our current unit topic to have them present their thoughts and opinions. First, having students sign up using email was only straightforward for those who regularly use email. Otherwise, students forgot passwords or had trouble creating email accounts. I can deal with that by having students write down their passwords and login information in their notebooks. If our school district provided students with school email, some of the issues with lost password or login information could be avoided. Once all accounts were set up, showing students how to personalize their blog was easy and they caught on quickly.
I provide students with a quick in class reading so they can get some information, then they spend the rest of the class typing a blog post in response to specific questions I write based on the reading they did in class. I follow each of the student’s blogs so I can easily comment to them to open up conversations and I can help them improve writing skills to work on IEP goals. I can also assess their understanding of the topic we read in class. The biggest thing I am pushing with my students through blogging is teaching them to back up their opinions with facts and details. I constantly repeat to them that their opinions are stronger when they can give clear and concrete reasons to support them. As we work through non-fiction topics connected with their science and history classes students will form opinions, use concrete evidence to support their opinions, and build skills necessary to be more active and social citizens.