From Quick Writes to Blog Posts

Routine is everything in the classroom. It gives structure to students who may not have much of a structure at home and alleviates anxiety since students know what to expect.

Completed Quick Write
Sample Quick Write from 2013
When I first started teaching, I would welcome everyone to the classroom, go over announcements, and then we would complete the Quick Write for the day. I created a nifty little template for students to complete and submit at the end of each week. Typically it would be a prompt that would either review the previous day's lesson or introduce the day's lesson.

The Pros: It was a great routine for the students that allowed them reflect, discuss, and engage for the period. 

The Cons: The audience consisted of me and maybe a TA so grammar, proof-reading, and full explanations were not a priority for students. The paper was frequently lost, which required students to either start over or receive a zero. As the school year progressed, it felt almost impossible to keep up with all the grading so feedback became less valuable and less meaningful.

Image of Blogger App emerging from behind a wall.
Blogger App
While I kept this routine to remain consistent, I began to investigate ways alternatives. Enter the Chromebooks. Once I started using them in my class, I began attending edtech conferences, doing research, and taking classes on edtech. In one class, I learned about Blogger, a free blog posting application provided through Google. My chance to test out blogger came when I taught Economics in Summer School and would have 100% access to the Chromebooks. While that was a process in itself that you can read about here, I found the blogs to be much more successful than my Quick Writes. 

Flash forward to 2015 when I started working at Minarets High School and finally had a complete 1:1 classroom. The transition from teaching at a traditional high school to a technological high school was not always smooth, but I eventually made blogging a routine in my classroom: 
  • At the start of class, the prompt was projected on the board via Google Slides (also posted on Schoology if students are absent
  • Students log on to Blogger and have 10 to 15 minutes to write their post and submit a screenshot to Schoology 
  • We then discuss the prompt as a class
Every year, I change the routine a bit. Last year, for example, I began to emphasis the quality of the blog posts over the quantity of blog posts that they do. I created a rubric to ensure that grading was consistent and expectations were clear. I began to have students share comment on one another's posts and/or share on social media. Examples of the templates and the process can be found in my old Blogger Training presentation:






Next year, I hope to mix up the routine to ensure that my students' blogs are used to their fullest potential. How can they reach out to more people? Are there more effective programs than Blogger? How can I make the process more meaningful? How can I encourage students to reflect even after they leave my classroom?




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