Red Tape Blogging

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This year, one of my main goals is to work through the process of getting all my 5th graders blogging. I refuse to fail at this. Period. End of story.  (Please, let this be the end of the story!!!)

Last year, I naively thought the hardest part of student blogging would be teaching them how to actually use the WordPress software.  Wrong! (insert buzzer sound of choice here)  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Although I am surrounded by some pretty forward thinking people at the district level, I quickly exhausted myself checking into issues like permissions, privacy, hosting, blah, blah, blah.  Too much red tape and ambiguity!  Not sure I was meant to be a trail blazer given my lack of fortitude, but I can at least say I’m resilient.  Bounce back like one of  those inflatable Scooby-Doo punching bags!  I was down, but not for the count.

So, I’ll be piloting individual blogs at the elementary level in our district.  (To the best of my knowledge…. and if someone else is already doing it, we certainly need to talk!)  I know how I’m going to progress through instruction. I have started a list of blog entry assignments.  However, there are still lingering questions that will need to be answered before this process gets rolling in the next week or two.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Should I host student blogs at our local building level (via WordPress) or at the district level (also via WordPress)? (Each has it’s pros and cons, but a large part of the concern with using the district ‘umbrella’ is the lack of any way to monitor those student blogs closely.)
  • How do we name student blogs for elementary children?  First name, last initial? Their district email address? (Which isn’t turned ‘on’ until 6th grade, but would have their first initial, middle initial, last name, and grad year…. so much for not being identifiable?)
  • How do I educate parents about the benefits and perils of blogging without shutting down the process?
  • How do I/we monitor these blogs regularly? (I’m thinking RSS feed bundles.)
  • What happens when their 5th grade year is over?  (I’m thinking exporting their blog to disk, and then allowing them to ask for a new ‘big people’ blog with the district where they can import their elementary content.)
  • Is there going to be a have’s/have not’s kind of mentality among those whose parents allow them to blog and those who don’t?  (Those who aren’t publishing a blog will still be ‘blogging’ within a word processing program.)
  • If I start them with the district, what happens this summer when school is out? How will 6th grade teachers know their kids have blogs?  Will I ever quit reading their blogs? 😉
  • Will parents actually monitor their own child’s blog? What are the ramifications if they don’t?

Ideas? Thoughts? Personal experience? Words of wisdom?