Blogging good teaching

Russell Imrie shares his thoughts on the benefits of blogging in the classroom.

PE Teacher, Lenzie Academy, East Dunbartonshire

As a probationer teacher of Physical Education, I expected ICT to be an aspect of teaching I would use sporadically in the games hall, videoing and analysing straddle vaults or overhead clears.

My recent discovery of web logs (also known as blogs) has led to a dramatic overuse, some may say obsession, with possibly the best interactive tool available to schools.

Blog basics

It's important not to confuse a blog with a website. A blog allows a distinctive writing place where individuals are able to communicate online, creating a sense of identity, personality and ownership.

Currently I have three blogs up and running: one for a Standard Grade class, one for a Higher class and one for a school football team.

The simplest way to blog is to publish for practical reasons, transferring basic information relating to your class or club. I've uploaded various documents and information to my blogs, including:

  • class notes
  • powerpoint presentations
  • homework sheets
  • team news
  • links to various websites

Your blog effectively acts as an online school notice board, newspaper and resource bank for pupils, accessible anytime and anywhere. As the editor, you can easily revise previous posts.

It can also contribute to assessment for learning; publishing future lessons and lesson intentions enables pupils to go online and know what to expect for that day. Pupils who are absent can see what they're missing and what to catch up on.

Extra support

I've occasionally used my blog to offer additional reading or to provide extra support. This can be set as optional, for pupils to complete at home in their own free time or, if you're lucky (as I am) to have access to a computer suite, be completed in class.

It's also possible for pupils to respond to blog posts and discuss topics that you've set. This can be completed in class as individual, paired or group work. The excitement of being online offers an innovative and motivating lesson that the pupils respond well to.

I generally have my blogs operating through comment moderation. This means a comment will not be published online unless I have authorised it and it has an identified author.

Blogs can be used as a place where students (or even parents) can leave feedback or voice their concerns on any issue they feel relevant.

I encourage my pupils to use the "comment" feature to ask everyday questions about lessons, homework or general concerns. On this occasion I allow pupils to publish their comments as anonymous.

Pros and cons

If blogs are so simple to use and offer so many benefits to a school and its pupils then why are they not more widely used? Well, like all good things there are drawbacks.

Firstly, the success of a blog relies on all pupils having easy access to the Internet. When asked, all my pupils said they had access outside of school. However, this should not be a deterrent as pupils should be encouraged to use school computer labs or library.

Secondly, having to moderate every comment with for example a homework discussion requires the teacher to regularly check the blog to keep the discussion flowing. However, for my Higher blog I have adopted a new approach.

I emailed all pupils via the blog inviting them to join; this allowed pupils to create a username and password that they need in order to leave a comment.

I have now removed the comment moderation feature, as no pupil can leave a comment without first signing in. This encourages the pupils to have more ownership and responsibility for the blog.

A different approach

Blogging is by no means the new way to teach. However, I have found that it creates stimulation within the classroom with its unique slant on communication, publishing work and completing homework.

It requires, as with all teaching, a lot of planning, preparation and organisation in order to be successful. I would definitely recommend it.

Happy blogging!

You can visit my blogs at: