An Update on Classroom Blogging

Initial post about using WordPress/Blogging/Feedly in the classroom

Several weeks ago, I discussed my desire to have my students begin blogging in the classroom.  My plan was to have them create their own WordPress accounts and write both creatively and academically, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The school year is only 3 weeks old now and I have successfully assigned two blog postings.

Blog Assignments:

  1. “Convince Me” Final Draft
    1. Students will participate in a Think-Pair-Share in order to create a list of the characteristics of a convincing argument.
    2. Students will share out their responses to create a master list of all the characteristics.
    3. Students will read a sample argument essay in which the major parts are labeled.
    4. Students will create their own definitions of the parts of an argument essay based on the samples and their purposes.
    5. Students will respond to the following prompt: I am a flexible teacher, so if I hear a convincing argument for something, I will give it genuine consideration. I typically assign homework three days a week. Write a one-paragraph argument that attempts to convince me to cancel assigning homework for Eng IV.  Alternative: You may like homework, so you can argue for why it should still be assigned.
    6. Students spent three days between peer editing, reading samples and grading them, and studying other argument essays before writing their final draft that is uploaded to their blog as their first posting.
  2. “To This Day” Inspired Poem
    1. In our synthesis essay unit entitled “Haters Gonna Hater,” I had students read multiple texts from various genres that all dealt with bullying.  One poem that was included in this unit was “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan.  There’s a fantastic rendition, in addition to the TEDTalk, of “To This Day” that you can watch here.  
    2. Students worked with “Arm Partners” (someone that is within arm’s length of their original seat) to read through the printed version of “To This Day” and they completed a Close-Reading analysis.
    3. After sharing their analysis with their partners, students watched the video version of “To This Day.”  This is the version we watched:
    4. Students were asked to discuss the specific writing choices that were made that separated this poem from others they had read.
    5. Finally, students were asked to write their own versions of “To This Day” in which they mimicked Koyczan’s style.  The topic was bullying.  Their poems had to be 10 stanzas with a minimum of 6 lines each.  This poem was posted on their blogs.

Establishing Classroom Norms PLUS

Part of my Beginning of the School Year routine is establishing classroom norms with my students.  I included this in my Top Ten Classroom Resources for 2014-2015 list and wrote about my experience in August of 2012 when I first attempted this strategy with freshmen.  One of my favorite educational resources has always been Edutopia, and Tuesday, they released an article by Todd Finley titled, “The Science Behind Classroom Norming,” that included the Why and several Hows to create classroom norms with your students.


After reading this article, I am going to be updating my approach to establishing classroom norms.

1.  I will be updating my definition of “norms” to include, “those that pertain to safety and health (no shoving), moral norms (help peers), and discretionary norms(clean your desk before leaving for the day).”

2.  Because I will be working with students I taught last year, I will be able to jump into the establishment of classroom norms sooner than the classes that I will be meeting for the first time.  I am intrigued by the T-Chart approach to addressing issues within the classroom:

Problem/Norm T-Chart
In previous semesters or during the last two weeks, what has interfered with your learning?
What reasonable norms could prevent that from occurring in this class?
1. When students laugh at kids who make a mistake, we are reluctant to participate in a class discussion. 1. Don’t make fun of mistakes. Class is a gloat-free zone.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.

3.  I’m a proponent for students assessing and analyzing their personality and learning styles, so I do plan on having them take the Kiersey Temperament Sorter assessment.

Exercise #1: What You Should Know about Us?

Purpose: Help learners accommodate classmates’ needs.

Before norming day, have students take the Kiersey Temperment Sorter, a personality assessment, and ask them to form groups with peers who have similar scores. Ask the groups to a) identify what their teammates have in common and b) decide what outside groups should know about them. You’ll need to ask the extroverts to talk quietly and the introverts to simply talk. Then ask the groups to report on their discussions.


Question: Have you ever utilized norms and/or norm establishment activities in your classroom?  If so, how did it go for you?

I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave your comments in the Comment space below.