Bringing Blogging to the Classrooms

February 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogging in the Classroom, Mini-Lessons

11/1/2013 Note:  Below describes the first year I brought blogging to the classroom.  Some activities remain; some have since changed:

Last week, my students signed up for their blogs!  They are excited to write their first post later this week. Here is the deets on this new blogging project we’ve embarked upon ~

WHO:        3 classes of sophomore Reading Strategies (students reading scores below grade level)

a.  Two introductory activities (click here for GG’s activities)
b.  Blogging etiquette discussion (see below)
c.   Initial sign up & theme choice
d.  This week = first post!!!!

WHEREEdublogs by WordPress

WHEN: ongoing throughout this semester

WHY:       to facilitate motivation and fluidity with students’ reading and writing skills.

HOW:      Students will be blogging once a week.


When you write anything in the blog, please use the following guidelines. There are some questions so you may want to reflect on your posts.

1. Only post things that you would want everyone (in school, at home, in other countries) to know.
Ask yourself: Is this something I want everyone to see?

2. Do not share personal information.
Ask yourself: Could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?

3. Think before you post.
Ask yourself: What could be the consequences of this post?

4. Know who you’re communicating with.
Ask yourself: Who is going to look at this, and how are they going to interpret my words?

5. Consider your audience and that you’re representing Palatine High School.
Ask yourself: Do I have a good reason/purpose to do this?

6. Know how to give constructive feedback.
Ask yourself: What will I cause by writing this post?

7. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
Ask yourself: Would I want someone to say this to me?

8. Use appropriate language and proper grammar and spelling.
Ask yourself: Would I want this post to be graded for proper grammar and spelling?

9. Only post information that you can verify is true (no gossiping).
Ask yourself: Is this inappropriate, immature or bullying?

10. Anytime you use media from another source, be sure to properly cite the creator of the original work. Otherwise, this is considered plagiarism and is reason to fail the class.
Ask yourself: Who is the original creator of this work?

Commenting Guidelines

As a blogger, you will be commenting on other people’s work regularly. Good comments:

  • are constructive, but not hurtful;
  • consider the author and the purpose of the post;
  • are always related to the content of the post;
  • include personal connections to what the author wrote;
  • answer a question, or add meaningful information to the content topic;
  • follow the writing process. Comments are a published piece of writing.

Blogging Terms and Conditions

  1. Students using blogs are expected to act safely by keeping personal information out of their posts. You agree to not post or give out your family name, password, user name, email address, home address, school name, city, country or other information that could help someone locate or contact you in person. You may share your interests, ideas and preferences.
  2. Students using blogs agree not to share their user name or password with anyone besides their teachers and parents. You agree to never log in as another student.
  3. Students using blogs are expected to treat blogspaces as classroom spaces. Speech that is inappropriate for class is not appropriate for your blog. While we encourage you to engage in debate and conversation with other bloggers, we also expect that you will conduct yourself in a manner reflective of a representative of this school.
  4. Student blogs are to be a forum for student expression. However, they are first and foremost a tool for learning, and as such will sometimes be constrained by the various requirements and rules of classroom teachers. Students are welcome to post on any school-appropriate subject.
  5. Students blogs are to be a vehicle for sharing student writing with real audiences. Most visitors to your blog who leave comments will leave respectful, helpful messages. If you receive a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable or is not respectful, tell your teacher right away. Do not respond to the comment.
  6. Students using blogs take good care of the computers by not downloading or installing any software without permission, and not clicking on ads or competitions.
  7. Students who do not abide by these terms and conditions may lose their opportunity to take part in this project.

Bringing Blogging to The Classroom #1

As I embark on a new semester, I’m planning a unit in which my reading students create and utilize their own blogs.  I’m hoping this facilitates motivation and fluidity with students’ reading and writing skills.  The blogs will provide a place for students to publish their work and feel a sense of an audience other than me.  I’m piloting this with and will incorporate this into other class curriculums if it proves somewhat successful with this group.

**I will update with more activities as I administer them along with the successes and tribulations as they come!***

Activity #1:  This will spark the initial discussion on blogging.  →  →  →


Directions: Next to each statement, please put an A if you agree with the statement or a D if you disagree with the statement.  We will discuss these issues together!

_____1. Computers are necessary.

_____2. Email is better than the telephone.

_____3. Text is better than email.

_____4. IM is better than text.

_____5. We would be nowhere without advancements in science and technology.

______6. We need weapons of mass destruction.

______7. The only people who are responsible for weapons of mass destruction are the people who use them.

_____8. I would like to have a clone.

_____9. To cook = to microwave.

____10. When I was little, playing with my friends meant playing outside.

____11.. When I was little, playing with my friends meant playing video games together.

____12. Friends and family are more important than anything money can buy.

____13. Man has power over technology.

____14. Technology is more powerful than man.

____15. My social life would not be as fulfilling if it wasn’t for social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

____16. Blogging is a productive way to read and/or share information.

Activity #2:  To provide a baseline for writing skills at the opening of the semester, the course requires students write a five-paragraph opinion paper.  I’ve slanted the requirement to the blogging project.  →  →  →

Technology = Friend or Enemy?

Believe it or not, when your incredibly young, hip, stylish teacher was your age, the Internet or World Wide Web was just getting off the ground; we certainly did not have it available in school.  There were no cell phones.  Oh, there were those lovely, large car phones that could not be removed from the car and that only worked when the car was on.  So, at least, if one had an emergency while the car running, it was all good.  One of my favorite video games was Kaboom, which was an Atari game – I’ll be shocked if any of you remember that awesomely addicting game!  You know, I thought that in the year 2010 we’d be living like the Jetsons by now. (wait . . . that cartoon is way before your time too!)

Aside from the few prehistoric items I mentioned above, think about the many technological innovations we have today:  the vast array of communication tools, medical advances, entertainment breakthroughs, space exploration and other transportation, weapons technology, and more.  We have come a long way in the short time since I was in your position — sitting in my freshman English class wondering, “What are we doing today, and why do I even care?”  Well, today you should care.  This assignment is a chance for you to finally voice your views.  All I want you to do is think about one question:  Is technology our friend or our enemy?

I’m not talking about just you or just the people in this class.  I am talking about the entire human race.  Based on what you do or don’t know about the colossal world in which you play a significant role, write a five-paragraph essay on why you think technology is or is not the enemy.  In this age of IPod and IPhone and portable DVD and Flip movie camera, etc. . . this question is more important than ever!


Yes, this is an opinion paper, but you must use support.  Your support can be from your own life experiences, experiences of others, what you have seen on the news, what you read about in the papers, etc.  The point is that you must make your reader understand why you feel the way you do, and you must try to make the reader agree with you based on your support.

Paragraph 1—Introduction, which contains a thesis statement.  This statement is your main opinion statement; it is the basis for the whole paper.  It is your statement about whether technology is our friend or our enemy.

Paragraph 2—First body paragraph, first reason why technology is friend or foe and why (support).

Paragraph 3-Second body paragraph, second reason why technology is friend or foe and why (support).

Paragraph 4-Third body paragraph, third reason why technology is friend or foe and why.

Paragraph 5—Conclusion, which restates the thesis in different words, and summarizes the whole paper.

This paper is worth 45 Points.  Due end of hour!!!  Cannot be completed for homework!




Focus and Organization (15 Points)              Content/Support (15 Points)

*Thesis is clearly stated.                                *Concrete Details

*Thesis is maintained throughout.              *Specific Examples for Support/Persuasion

*No tangential issues.                                    *Each paragraph supports thesis

*Style requirements are met.

*Appropriate Paragraphing                       Grammar/Usage (15 Points) *spelling, punctuation, diction,

Toast a Boast!

January 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons, Writing Practice


Here’s a way to introduce English Literature in the classroom:

(adapted from an assignment by the great Jeffrey Leathem, a colleague in my department!!)

Anglo-Saxon Boasts

We’re going to do a little old-fashioned chest-thumping Anglo-Saxon style.

Your boast should include the following elements:

A. Self-identification (I am . . .)

B. Your immediate ancestry and something about your lineage

C. Boasts of at least three past achievements and/or hobbies

D. Boast of an achievement to come

E. Include at least three identifiable kennings (Identify in margin)

F. Include at least three identifiable alliterative phrases (monster-mashing, Grendel grater) (Identify in margin)

Should be 20-25 lines – approximate verse form (no need to rhyme)

***Extra Credit will be given to those souls who dress up like Anglo-Saxon Warriors and deliver the boast aloud in class

Anglo-Saxon Boast Example

Hail young thanes who gather about me –
For I am GG, dweller of the creek.
From the land of Lincoln, here in Chicago.
Daughter of the late RC, chief motivator of the crowds,
And N, seller of homes. Sister of D,
Online gamer consult & seller of homes.
From the high plains I come! I roar!
Reader of books, dancer of songs,
Scribe of stories, and essay-assigner.
Commander of the hardwood battlefield,
I approach my foes and float on them with the
Fine fin, wading through water,
Snapping waves, watching for whacks from my foes.
I speak of and boast of the victories of the
Blue and White Small Bear Warriors!
And how ‘bout those Blue and Silver Boys?!
I stretch with force forming a fine angle –
Blasting my limb-movers and walking-propellers with
Momentous endurance.  Defeating my enemies.
Flying on the human-kite at 1300 ft. above ground.
Pale-hosed, I prepare the fire feast – The great celebrations.
Under sweltering sun in the flame’s face.
I barbecue the grub –Party Host Champion I am hailed:
Planner of Surprises!   Host of many!
A challenge is decreed by my heir –
I am  healer of wounds, listener of qualms,
Helper of homework, preparing the way for
My heir to this mighty mead-hall.
I’ll make good on my boast and talk all the louder –
Poets will celebrate my actions with rousing cries,
Shaping my deeds into timeless songs.


What Bugs You?

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons, Writing Practice

People love to complain, rant, and rave – my students are no exception.  I use this lesson early on in the year to get them warmed up to writing.  They rarely experience brain freezes for this one!

What Bugs Me . . .*

What bugs you??

  • Talking loudly on cell phones at inappropriate times and places
  • Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas
  • Subscription cards that fall out of magazines
  • Telemarketers
  • People who lose all manners to get a parking space
  • Filling my car with gas
  • Drivers who don’t observe the rules of the road and crash into your less than 2 month old car!!!!
  • People who say “ta” instead of “to.”
  • People who update their FB status 12 times a day.

. . . You get the picture!


  1. Brainstorm a list of at least ten things that bug you.
  2. Choose ONE to write about.
  3. Type a one-page description of why this particular issue/item/etc. bugs you.

There!  Doesn’t that feel good to get that off your chest?!?

adapted from Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers

Find the Fib

September 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons, Writing Practice

People usually love to write about themselves.  Writing can be therapeutic, it can be a chance to express oneself more openly than one may in person, and it can provide a creative channel to explore.  Here’s an assignment my seniors run with time and again:

Find the Fib*  fingers_crossed

Below you will find five statements about me. Four of the statements are true, one is a fib. Can you guess which one is the fib?

1. My voice is the voice of two characters on a pinball game.

2. I worked as a runway model.

3. I was interviewed and appeared on a national television show to give my opinion about one of the past season’s American Idol contestants.

4. Teri Hatcher is my third cousin on my mother’s side.

5. I hang glided 1400 feet in the air, and later jumped off 100 ft cliff.


Now it’s your turn!

a. Type five statements about yourself. (think of your accomplishments, accidents, travels, mishaps, etc) Four statements must be true and one statement must be a fib.

2. Print a copy of your statements. Go to as many classmates as possible. You must go to at least ten people, but the more the better. Keep track of how many people can spot your fib and how many cannot. Tell me your results here: _____ # of people you fool _____ # of people who correctly guess your fib The person with the fewest correctly guessed fibs will be officially titled the “Best Fibber” of the Class of 2010!!!

3. Now . . . choose one of your true statements to elaborate on. Your assignment is to tell the story of this statement in writing! (minimum one well-developed paragraph)

*adapted from Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers

btw – the fib is #4!  🙂