How to Grow a Blog

Last month, in preparation for my K12Online Conference presentation, I re-read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Good Business. Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning. In it, he states that the experience of flow – when the person is totally immersed in an activity and genuinely enjoying the moment – comes from “the steps one takes toward attaining a goal, not from actually reaching it.” He adds that:

People often miss the opportunity to enjoy what they do because they focus all their attention on the outcome, rather than savoring the steps along the way. Where does the pleasure in singing come from – finishing the song, or producing each note or phrase? … To be overly concerned with the ultimate goal often interferes with performance. If a tennis player thinks only of winning the match, she won’t be able to respond to her opponent’s powerful serve … our primary concern here is not with what constitutes a successful performance, but with the quality of experience during performance. If we agree that the bottom line of life is happiness, not success, then it makes perfect sense to say that it is the journey that counts, not reaching the destination.

In education, however, the product – the grade, the final draft, the test mark – still often takes precedence over the process of learning – the sense of personal journey without which the final destination is meaningless. What is even worse is that many of our students are very comfortable with that idea. To them, school is often about “playing the game.” They follow along, raise hands, submit assignments, study for tests. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these activities as long as they do not impede their progress as independent thinkers, researchers, and writers. Unfortunately, most of the time, “playing the game” means following the rules that we’ve set up for the students. We bring in the hoops, and the students jump through them. It’s an easy process for everyone involved.

In my classroom – a predominantly blogging classroom – things have to be different. I believe that it is my role as an educator to ensure that my students are given opportunities to grow as individuals, and are not treated as mere pupils who passively receive information. As a result, the traditional approach to teaching and learning, to assessment and evaluation, has to be modified. It is a difficult process for both the students and the teacher. It is a process in which the classroom becomes more of a studio where learners engage with concepts that they find interesting and personally relevant. It becomes a place where they are given opportunities to create their own networks and become experts in their chosen fields.

In order to create that classroom, however, I need to continue to tweak my classroom practice. The students need a different, more conversational, expressive, and individualized kind of support. They also need to be gradually eased into their new roles of independent researchers.

At the beginning of the year, I always talk to my students about “growing” their own blog. It is a challenging concept because, when they are first introduced to blogging, they are all under the impression that everything they write will be graded and that their blog is just an electronic version of their notebook or journal. So, when at the beginning of the year, I start talking about blogging and the steps that the students need to take to “grow” their own blog, they are always a bit confused and surprised – my words suggest a lot of freedom, and freedom, as we all know, is not something that students associate with school.

For two years, I struggled to verbally explain the concept to them, with varying results. This year, however, I had a visual tool.

How To Grow a Blog

I created it this past summer and could not wait to use it in class. When I finally used it last month, the results were encouraging. The students looked at it and, when I said “I’d like you to think about how you are going to grow your own blog,” they knew exactly what I meant.

The diagram I created is intended to help them visualize their progress over the course of a school year. It assumes that blogging is not about posting an entry in response to a homework assignment but about engaging in writing that is personally relevant. The diagram helps students define their goals and ways of reaching them. It helps them realize that blogging is not about posting well thought-out entries, and that each entry does not need to present a definitive and complete view on a given topic. Rather, it helps them see that blogging is about engaging with ideas.

Blogs are perfect tools to encourage and assist students in cognitive engagement. Blogging is a process, a conversation. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year, my students tend to see each blog entry as the equivalent of a well-composed paragraph response or even an essay. I admit, there is nothing wrong with producing well-written and well organized entries as long as the entry is not an end in itself, as long as the process of intellectual engagement does not end once the piece is posted. I want my students to understand that bloggers blog because they are on a journey, a quest, and that every entry is an opportunity to continue that journey.

So, when they see this handout, this planning sheet, the students realize that the academic year ahead of them is an opportunity to produce a body of work, to stay engaged, to use their time productively doing things they’re interested in as opposed to completing assignments for their teacher.

This planning sheet, called How to Grow a Blog, consists of three parts.

The first part refers to the blooming flower – the goal of any gardener or a serious blogger. This is the long-term goal. When I explain this first part, I say to my students that they should think about what they want their blog to represent at the end of the year. I tell them that they need a personal goal. I say that once they start blogging, they will continue to add to their blog thus creating a body of work. “What,” I ask them, “do you want to see there right before you graduate? What do you want the visitors to your blog to think when they see it in June? What do you want to accomplish?”

How to Grow a Blog - The Goal

Keep in mind, this is not easy. Generally speaking, the only time students in grade eight think about long-term goals is when they worry about grades or getting into the high school programme of their choice. Engagement with ideas lasts only until the assigned deadline. Once the assignment is handed in, the engagement ends. Blogging is very different, of course, and the diagram helps them realize that.

Once they choose a personal goal, a topic that they want to pursue, I ask the students to fill in the bottom part, called “The Right Habitat.” Here, the students have to think about the steps they need to take in order to create the right environment for their blogs.

How to Grow a Blog - The Right Habitat

This part asks them to think about the root system for their blog. Where are the nutrients going to come from? Where will I find nourishment as a thinker and researcher? This is an opportunity to consider the fact that in order to learn and engage with ideas, one needs a habitat that will support it, and that the best way to build just such a habitat is to find other people and resources that one can converse with. In other words, I want the students to learn that blogging is about initiating and sustaining conversations. So, I ask them, “Now that you know what you would like to research or document on your blog, where is the inspiration going to come from, where are your ideas going to come from? What kinds of resources are you going to include in your habitat to help you grow your blog and extend your thinking?”

So, having chosen their goals, the students look for online resources that will help them learn more about their chosen topics. This is a perfect opportunity for me to make it very clear that blogs are about learning. Once they choose their topics, I always ask them how much they already know about the topic. The answers vary, of course, but fairly quickly the students realize that they do not know much about the chosen topic, even if it is something they are very passionate about. And so, a discussion about blogging turns into a discussion about learning. “Where will you go online to learn more about your chosen topic?” I ask them, “Who will you interact with and learn from?” This is how they begin to build their networks.

How to Grow a Blog - Habits and Commitment

Finally, I give them time to consider habits and commitments – that’s what the stem represents in my diagram. I want them to think about the kinds of habits that, in their opinion, will be necessary to accomplish their goals. If the goal is to produce a body of work on globalization, for example, then they need to ask themselves what is required of them, on a daily and weekly basis, to achieve that goal. This is a difficult part for them to fill out because it requires a certain degree of self-knowledge. If they want their blogs to bloom, then they must think about the steps they need to take every day to ensure that they are on track. They must also know themselves and decide on the steps they need to take to develop good habits.

I believe that the most effective part of this diagram is that it gives the students an opportunity to do some long-term planning, which is not an easy task because, as students, they are used to short-term goals, such as finishing tonight’s homework. At the same time, they have to think about the little steps, the daily activities and posts and where they will come from. They need to find the right habitat that will inform their work. They need to think about strategies and habits necessary to both start and continue their journey.

In short, the goal of using this handout is twofold: to help students plan and begin their journey, and to think about the habits they will need for that journey. I want them to understand that the most valuable part of blogging is the process of interacting with ideas and people, not producing finished assignments on assigned topics. This planning sheet helps them define their long-term goals but, at the same time, it also helps them see that blogging is a journey. I have already noticed that this handout and the instructional conversations that it initiates help the students realize that successful learning is not about submitting definitive pieces on assigned topics, but primarily about what Csikszentmihalyi calls “the quality of experience,” a sense of meaningful immersion in one’s pursuits.

The challenge, of course, is that the students perceive traditional school work as something that is safe, much safer than becoming an independent researcher. They often find comfort in the fact that as long as the questions are answered and the work handed in, they will continue to do well as students. Blogging, on the other hand, is initially a big unknown. There are no deadlines and no clear guidelines. After years of jumping through hoops, students are suddenly faced with a lot of freedom which they often find overwhelming. I’ve noticed that the planning sheet I developed can provide a solid support mechanism that many young bloggers need at the beginning of this journey. It’s a good tool to use in order to start a process of conversational feedback and assessment.

Below, you will find some examples of how my students filled out their How to Grow a Blog planning sheets. Keep in mind that what these sheets represent is the start of their journey as researchers and writers. They provide me with an opportunity to engage students in meaningful conversations that can eventually lead to meaningful and long-term personal engagement on student blogs. Your feedback on this handout and the strategy behind it would be truly appreciated. If you are interested in using or modifying this planning sheet, please feel free to download it. If you do choose to use it, either in its original or modified form, please send me your feedback.

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56 Responses to How to Grow a Blog

  1. Sus Nyrop October 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm #

    What a full grown blog post. I’ll need print on paper to get the full potential

  2. Katie October 28, 2007 at 5:04 pm #

    I just began blogging, so the concept is a little hard for me to grasp so far. But I like this post because the diagrams are a good way to visualize and really understand the point of blogging. It’s hard for me though because I am so used to writing a paper and trying to make it sound as good as possible because I am trying to get the grade. And the worst part about writing a paper is that I have never considered myself good at it. “In education, however, the product – the grade, the final draft, the test mark – still often takes precedence over the process of learning – the sense of personal journey without which the final destination is meaningless.” For me, this states exactly how I felt in high school. All I cared about was getting a good grade. Actually learning the information wasn’t my goal. Now that I’m in college, I am wanting to really learn the subject and understand what is being taught, but there is always still that thought in the back of my head that I need to get the grade. I like the idea in this post too that blogging is really about the ideas. The writer doesn’t need to write a blog like a formal essay so it makes the process much easier. “It helps them realize that blogging is not about posting well thought-out entries, and that each entry does not need to present a definitive and complete view on a given topic. Rather, it helps them see that blogging is about engaging with ideas.”

  3. Clarence Fisher October 29, 2007 at 6:18 am #

    As usual Konrad, your posts take me some time to work through, re-read, and time to settle and consider. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your process, and your handouts and samples. These provide a great window into your classroom. The process of easing students into becoming researchers and independent thinkers is a long term task and I like the idea of “growing” and having students become long term visionaries of their own body of work. You are completely correct that this is so different from “regular” school that they must get used to not jumping through short term hoops constantly. For some students this is a challenge as it feels very laissez – faire to them and this must be tackled. This organic process feels very natural and well fitting to the idea of studio. My question is this: in a studio, often we have many people doing different things at the same time. Are students given some choice in their form of representation? What happens if blogging is not the best choice of representation of their understanding of a topic. What about students who are more visually oriented? Can they produce something else to help them along in their understanding?

  4. Sarah Stewart October 29, 2007 at 1:27 pm #

    Thank you for this resource, Konrad. I love the way the diagrams keep things simple.

  5. Konrad Glogowski October 30, 2007 at 7:31 pm #

    Clarence,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past three years thinking about both the advantages and the weaknesses of blogging. Your question addresses one of the weaknesses – namely, the fact that it forces upon our students a specific form of expression. I’ve always said that blogging works with students who enjoy reading and writing. They are, in many ways, natural bloggers simply because they favour the written form of expression. But what about students who prefer other ways of sharing their ideas, who do not look at the world through the lens of writing?

    That, in some ways, is why I like the “How to Grow a Blog” diagram. I’ve noticed that it helps my students understand the research process – the process of defining a goal and then working towards it by engaging in activities that help them gain a better grasp of the chosen topic. In other words, blogging is just a part of the process. For many of my students, blogging becomes just a way to document their progress and, once they begin to grow as researchers, many choose other forms of representation. In the past, some chose to use wikis in order to collect in one place (as opposed to a reverse chronological timeline of their blog) the resources, the thoughts, the creations that the research process has prompted them to produce. They chose wiki pages because of their static nature. Many of them liked the fact that they could use a wiki page as a repository of all their work. To some of them, that one page felt more complete than a trail of entries on their blog. As a teacher, however, I noticed that it was that trail of entries that supported consistent and regular engagement with the topic.

    Over the years, I’ve also had some amazing performers in my class: kids who, whenever possible, chose to represent their work in the form of a song or a short dramatic performance. The blog helped them get to the final product and also became a place where the video of the skit or a song that they recorded was finally posted.

    So, I do agree that blogging can be limiting and that text itself, while an important part of any learning process, should not be the only form of expression available to our students or the only form of expression recognized by the teachers.

    The reason I value blogging and the reason why I developed this planning sheet is that having a journal where they can keep track of their knowledge and their growing understanding of concepts is a very helpful tool. It also gives them a place they can call their own. They do, however, need the freedom to “branch out” into other forms of expression and web presence. That’s why I always liked platforms like ELGG, for example, that give bloggers the option to share files on their blog. I would like to see that extended into something like static WordPress pages (I know other blogging tools offer that, too) where students can get away from the linear and progressive format of their blog to embrace a static form and a more “presentation-like” format. This idea also reminds me of Graham Wegner’s idea of having students conclude their independent research projects with a presentation (Teaching Generation Z » Blog Archive » Starting Next Round Of Personal Research Projects). I like the idea because, after months of blogging and researching, the students can use any mode of expression they are comfortable with to present their findings.

    Did I answer your question? I’m not sure … but thank you for making me think about this :-).

  6. Konrad Glogowski October 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    Katie,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you found some of my thoughts reminiscent of your academic experiences. I think you also captured in your comment the reason why I like working with this planning sheet – it’s because it helps the students see (I believe it helps them see) that blogging is about thinking and engaging with ideas, not about producing definitive projects or write-ups on assigned topics.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Konrad Glogowski October 30, 2007 at 7:42 pm #

    Sarah and Sus,

    Thanks for your positive responses. If you ever get a chance to adopt or modify this approach in your practice, let me know. Any thoughts about potential shortcomings would also be appreciated!

    – Konrad

  8. Jo November 1, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks for thinking about creating communities through writing. Your blogs have inspired me to try new things with my Junior English students in Illinois. As we move through a semester-long research project, I am giving them the option of blogging instead of summarizing their progress. I’m hoping that many of them will use that option. To model the process, I am going to blog about what I’m doing as a teacher and what I’m reading as a person. You are a great role model.

  9. Sharon Peters November 1, 2007 at 5:45 pm #

    Konrad, as usual I read your thoughts and see your connections and think – wow! – you so deserve that PhD! This model of growing a blog for students should also serve as a model for teachers. I had the opportunity today to revisit my two and bit years of blog posts and it was an interesting insight into my values and growth as an educator over time. The unseen audience of a blog is very important and galvanizing to me as a writer (encourages accountability, focus and discretion), but mostly I see that I have used my blog as a place to articulate experiences and ideas and to reflect over issues and trends. I am frustrated with those that think bloggers are only attention-seeking wannabes ( as I have been accused). I know that I have seen my own students grow as self-conscious writers over time because of the aspect of audience and because they also were exposed to the writing of their peers. Thank you, once again, for sharing thoughts of depth about this important topic. And thanks to the twitters that pointed me, once again, to a nugget of gold, that I may have otherwise overlooked. (I wish my 8th grade son was a student in your class!)

  10. Lou Gold November 9, 2007 at 8:14 am #

    It’s nearly impossible to read the wonderful student responses in this format. Readers can click on an image, transfer to flickr where they can click on “all sizes” and choose an enlargement for comfortable reading. It’s worth knowing what the young people say.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Julie November 9, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    “At the beginning of the year, I always talk to my students about “growing” their own blog. It is a challenging concept because, when they are first introduced to blogging, they are all under the impression that everything they write will be graded and that their blog is just an electronic version of their notebook or journal.”
    This blog has been the answer I have been looking for in blogging with my students. I have been trying to get my students to see that blogging is more than just commenting on my posts and completing the assignment but having a conversation with others. I am new to blogging and so your diagrams and instructions are ones I am willing to try. On my class blog (http://team4kms.com/anderson) students are not at the blogging stage yet. However, the science teacher in my building and I have set up students with learner blog accounts so they will hopefully be blogging soon. Thank you for writing this post as I am hoping it is going to help a tremendous amount in teaching my students how to blog.

  12. Konrad Glogowski November 10, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    Jo,

    Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that the resources and the reflection that I shared on this blog will be of use to you and your students. I’m thrilled that you’ve decided to model this sense of personal engagement for your students. I’d love to keep track of your efforts and those of your students. Will you be sharing your reflections on your own blog? If so, please send me a link. I’d love to keep in touch!

  13. Konrad Glogowski November 10, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Sharon,

    “This model of growing a blog for students should also serve as a model for teachers.” What an excellent idea, Sharon! Yes, blogging is more than a personal soapbox that many claim it to be. It is a personal place of reflection and self-assessment. I think that students of all ages need to be reminded of that and given guidance to embrace their blogs as places of inquiry. It is a lengthy process (at least for me in my classroom), but it is a process worth our time as educators. It’s a process that also changes our classroom practices.

    If our blogs are merely places where we speak our minds with no analysis of our progress and our practice, they become places devoid of substance. I don’t want my students to see blogging as a popularity contest. I want them to see it as a place that reflects their engagement as human beings. I think that this “How to Grow a Blog” approach can help.

  14. Konrad Glogowski November 10, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    Julie,

    Thank you for your comment. When I developed this approach and shared my resources and reflections here, I had no idea that the response would be so positive. I’m so glad that something that emerged from my own classroom practice and my own reflections will be of use to you and your colleague. I have subscribed to your blog and am very interested in seeing how this strategy will work in your classroom. Keep in mind, though, that you are free to modify what I produced in any way you want. In fact, you might have to make modifications because of the curriculum or the age group that you teach. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to see that you want to give this a try and that you think it might be an effective tool in your classroom.

    – Konrad

  15. Alyssa Cabrales November 19, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    Thank you for presenting a somewhat complicated concept of blogging in an easy to understand format. It’s helpful for those of us, like me, who are new to the blogging world.

  16. BlogTeacher November 28, 2007 at 5:56 am #

    I think I can adapt that to use with some of my adult learners.

    If anything they are even more “end product” than “process” focused, and I think this would be useful for them.

  17. Anne Paterson December 1, 2007 at 2:41 am #

    I will definitely use this approach next time I am talking to learners or teachers about blogging and will let you know how it goes. I think it is extremely well thought out and inspiring, makes me think about my own blog differently too!

  18. Claire Thompson December 3, 2007 at 11:43 pm #

    What a great visual for planning a blog. I am new to the world of blogging and I’m excited by its potential as a learning tool, but I am having trouble figuring out how to get my students blogging in a meaningful way. Your visual tool does a wonderful job of laying out the process so that students can produce meaningful blogs which will result in meaningful conversations. Thank you for including student samples; it makes it that much easier to see where students will take this.

  19. Nancy Bosch December 7, 2007 at 2:39 pm #

    I was visiting with a 4th grade teacher this morning in one of the building I serve. She is an excellent teacher but was frustrated at not being able to meet the needs of all students in her classroom becasue of a myriad of behavior and social problems. As we were talking I remembered a time when I heard Carol Ann Tomlinson (Univ of Va) speak on differentiation. She said that a perfect fit between curriculum and ability (of each student) would eliminate behavior problems.

    As NCLB becomes entrenched in the elementary classroom many teachers are stuck in a “lecture” only model, with much time spent teaching tested material. This model is least appropriate for kiddos with issues; impulsivity, attention, task completion, time management, etc. I’m going to send her this post as well as the link to your post on “studio”. It’ll probably make her cry!! Thanks. N

  20. Konrad Glogowski December 7, 2007 at 3:25 pm #

    Nancy,

    I do believe that this approach can make a difference and work well in the situation you described. Please also encourage your colleague to contact me if she would like any assistance with implementing this approach to blogging in her classroom. I would love to help out!

  21. Konrad Glogowski December 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm #

    Alyssa, Anne, and Claire,

    I’m so glad that you found this post and the planning sheet useful. If you do choose to implement it, please drop me a note. I would love to hear how teachers are using this approach in their classrooms. Feel free to modify it if you think that a modified version would more effectively serve your needs or the needs of your students.

    BlogTeacher,

    Great! I’ve taught adults too and agree when you say that they can be even more product-oriented than kids in K-12. Would love to hear how this approach works in Adult Ed. Please share your experiences.

    – Konrad

  22. Ann Link December 19, 2007 at 12:24 am #

    I’m a teacher new to blogging, and your posts here have helped immensely. Trying to soak in all the new info that I can! Thanks for the help and the handy resource.

  23. Megan January 15, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    Konrad,
    As soon as I heard you mention csikszentmihalyi, I was immediately hooked….great presentation in k12online conference (yes, I just finally listened to it on my new ipod). I plan on looking through your blog and ppt from the conference again and seeing how I can apply it to where I teach. I teach for Penn State University – graduate classes in the teacher education division. In my doctoral work, we studied mihaly’s writing and it applies so well…well done!
    Megan

  24. Alysha August 5, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    This was such an enlightening post for me. I started blogging this year with my students and although they were really keen to start, the enthusiasm dropped quickly.

    The part about understanding that blogging is a continual “work in progress” rather than a complete writing task is something that I will adopt immediately.

    I was lucky enough to receive the following sincere feedback:
    -that the workload increased greatly once we started blogging;
    – and whereas they previously might attempt HW and not finish, they suddenly felt intimidated that their work was “on display”
    – they felt less inclined to post unless the work was something they could be proud of.

    Considering that this was the absolute opposite of what I intended (and I made a big effort to be very encouraging in my comments), it was a big learning curve!

    I’ve felt a bit unsure as to how to proceed and to really get to the “meaningful”, “true learning” of blogs. But this post really helps.

    I do however, have one question:

    How do you see this approach working in a very defined curriculum setting?

    I can see it working to improve learning in a primary classroom or an ESL one, but in a mainstream English class where there are standardised tests at the end of the year, I feel quite limited.

    I’m not sure saying “go where you want with this blog” is feasible. How can I ensure it will still not just be “something else they have to do” for English class, and will still be relevant to our set curriculum?

  25. Ms. B August 11, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    I’m also beginning to blog and I’d like to implement it into my classroom. Thanks for the graphic (and the explanation); I think it will help me to explain the educational concept of blogging–that it’s not merely a journal.

    How is blogging incorporated into your class? I see that you teach 8th grade, but what is your subject area? I, like Alysha, am also seeking a bit of structure in blogging. I may use blogging as a way to record their research journey for our research essay as well as online discussion related to class readings.

    Does anyone have any great models of student blogs? I’d like to get students reading quality blogs at the beginning of the school year.

  26. Prabu Rajasekaran October 20, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    Konrad,

    I guess this idea will work out for me. Will try it out and I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. I am not a student and I’ll be working with primary school students shortly. Though I won’t have an opportunity to use these with them immediately, I can always pick this from delicious and use these.

    I guess what you suggest is more of a framework than a strict how-to for growing a blog. Although it is textual in nature, I think the ideas can be used for a podcast or a flickr community or a picture blog.

    Good luck.

  27. Sue James March 18, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    A wonderful article! I’ve not launched into blogging yet myself – although it’s something I’d like to do – and what you wrote, plus your great visuals have given me a really helpful point to start.

    That’s on a personal level .. and ok, I am (or will be) a VERY late bloomer as far as the blogosphere is concerned. A “boomer blog bloomer” perhaps? :-)

    However in relation to teaching and learning, there were also a number of things that really resonated for me as an ex-teacher and lifelong learner and educator myself.

    The pieces that struck the strongest chord were” “I believe that it is my role as an educator to ensure that my students are given opportunities to grow as individuals, and are not treated as mere pupils who passively receive information” and “The students need a different, more conversational, expressive, and individualized kind of support. They also need to be gradually eased into their new roles of independent researchers.”

    Although not related to blogging, this very much resonated for me in relation to the journal writing that was a part of my own classroom practice more than 20 years ago … :-) Way before the internet took off or blogging was invented.

    For that too, it was important to change my classroom practice from ‘teacher as expert’ to ‘teacher as listener’ – to instigate journals as a reflective space in which students could write about anything that moved them, explore ideas and life events in any way they wished. A space in which they could embark on a learning journey about life and themselves, with my role as a supporter, listener and conversationalist along that journey.

    Though that was a lifetime ago, and the ‘technology’ was an exercise book or other notebook of choice and a pen or pencil, each student’s journal became what was in some ways a ‘prehistoric’ blog. :-) Students wrote, reflected and asked questions in their journals. I and other students or friends (by invitation) commented, responded and otherwise engaged in an ongoing dialogue as the journal grew.

    As a teacher I set the frame – much as you are setting the frame with the process and materials you have described here. Then, although walking beside them on the path as needed, I essentially let go – trusting each student to carve his or her own path of learning through the journal. I also wanted my students to understand journalling is, just as you describe blogging, “a journey, a quest, and that every entry is an opportunity to continue that journey”.

    Very soon I found I was in awe of my students’ capacity to do just that – to reflect, to learn and to grow through their writing.

    I believe your material will be a fantastic foundation to support this process for your students through their blogs.

    May you and your students have much joy in the journey! :-)

  28. sromary April 9, 2009 at 1:47 am #

    I like the analogy here…and I will use this, but there is a key advantage to blogging not mentioned here that needs point out…categories and tags.

    Blogs are a place where someone is reflective on what they are learning about, and are engaged with ideas. Part of the process of writing a blog is knowing the categories and tags for the post, before-during-after the writing. The requires students to step back and see the post in context of the bigger picture. This is incredibly hard for students to do, as they need to understand the topic so well. Thus, I tell my students that when they blog they are also re-categorizing and re-tagging information in light of what their understanding of the topic as a whole. This to me is part of the ultimate goal…it speaks to what the blog needs to have in order to be successful in conveying the ideas…what the body of work needs to function.

  29. Bob Irving April 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Konrad, I just ran across this, though it’s been out there for a while. Really outstanding and thoughtful work. Since I sometimes teach middle school English, it has made me want to try blogging on a grand scale like this. I love that it’s all about a process, but there are ways to evaluate how they are doing, and that they participate in that evaluation.

    Did the literature your students studied follow or extend this theme of human rights?

    Thanks again!

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    […] not enough to know how to grow a blog, to pick a topic and keep contributing to one’s blog. Our students must also be aware of the […]

  2. The next batch — Blog To Teach - February 5, 2008

    […] to the Key Skills are the planning elements, and this was the first time I’d used the “How To grow a Blog” worksheets with the learners.  I had wondered about this, since I find the metaphor of a […]

  3. Blog growing « Learning Curve - February 28, 2008

    […] some of what was being written and checked my bloglines and came across Konrad’s post on growing blogs which inspired me – both in thinking about my own blogs and also in terms of what I do with […]

  4. Nominated in the Edublog Awards : jokay.com.au - March 1, 2008

    […] done Konrad in the Most influential blog post 2007 Category – for his fab post How to Grow a Blog. […]

  5. Blogging Comes Full Circle « InfoTech4Lrng - April 6, 2008

    […] While I feel that I have engaged in reflective writing for the majority of my posts, it is only recently that I have been much more conscious of my audience as I receive more comments from people that I don’t know, which led to, what I referred to in a previous post as, “blog block.”  It is also only recently that I have begun to link to previous posts and to comments others have made on my blog.  To do this, you must have a large enough number of blog posts to be able to link to something that you have said before or discuss further at a later date, demonstrating how thinking or perception has changed as a result of new learning.  This week I am particularly aware of the possibility that those who I am linking to and quoting may pop by pushing me to ensure, even more so than before, that simple things as the conventions of writing are accurate and that I am clear in what I am trying to say so as not to be misinterpreted still keeping in mind that, “blogging is not about posting well thought-out entries, and that each entry does not need to present a definitive and complete view on a given topic.  Rather, . . . blogging is about engaging with ideas” (Glogowski). […]

  6. Blogging Binds Critical Reading and Writing « InfoTech4Lrng - April 6, 2008

    […] and complete view on a given topic.  Rather, . . . blogging is about engaging with ideas” (Glogowski).  I am definitely engaged with ideas, most of which I never knew existed three short months ago […]

  7. A Blog Banquet « InfoTech4Lrng - April 6, 2008

    […] blocked at school.  Students were even engaged when school was closed because of a snow day.  Konrad Glogowski describes the process he used this year in How to Grow a Blog and Towards Reflective Blog Talk.  […]

  8. Edublogs Awards | JAG Stacks - April 9, 2008

    […] – The Fischbowl, Karl Fisch (Blogger) How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci – Wandering Ink How to Grow a Blog – blog of proximal development addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fbvwlibrary.edublogs.org%2F2008%2F01%2F18%2Fedublogs-awards%2F'; […]

  9. What’s In A Grade? « Tnprater1006’s Weblog - May 28, 2008

    […] money or if you will be taking the class over and paying money.  According to his last blog:  How to Grow a Blog it states – “In education, however, the product – the grade, the final draft, the test mark […]

  10. So what’s the problem? « Random Thoughts - July 2, 2008

    […] 9, 2007 by Nancy I was excited a couple weeks ago to read Konrad Glogowski’s post on How to Grow a Blog. I loved the graphic he used with his students to get them thinking about their blogs. I wanted to […]

  11. Growing my blog « Random Thoughts - July 2, 2008

    […] by Nancy Konrad Glogowski’s blog of proximal development always makes me think. His post How to Grow a Blog is certainly no exception. I think his visual outlining the idea is a great […]

  12. Networked Learner News » Blog Archive » Towards Reflective BlogTalk - July 19, 2008

    […] not enough to know how to grow a blog, to pick a topic and keep contributing to one’s blog. Our students must also be aware of the […]

  13. Towards Reflective BlogTalk | Networked Learner News - July 21, 2008

    […] not enough to know how to grow a blog, to pick a topic and keep contributing to one’s blog. Our students must also be aware of the […]

  14. Wordle Word Clouds - August 31, 2008

    […] Wordle was created by Jonathon Feinberg who blogs at Wordle Blog.  Wordles are created from words, text or URLs that you provide.   You can change colors, fonts, orientation, etc.  You can then print your wordles or grab them with a screen capture program – I highly recommend snagit for that. This is a word cloud i made at wordle called individuating. I pasted in the text from two slides from a slidedeck by Konrad Glogowski who has a blog called “blog of proximal development – teaching, blogging, learning.” He has an excellent post on blogging here. […]

  15. Educational blogging « (No Longer) Alone in a Library - September 9, 2008

    […] blogging to encourage reflection in their students.  I believe that Mr. Glogowski’s post on How to Grow a Blog is must-read for anyone interested in educational blogging.  I like the metaphor of blogs as an […]

  16. Blogging Article Snippets : Harrow School - October 26, 2008

    […] not enough to know how to grow a blog, to pick a topic and keep contributing to one’s blog. Our students must also be aware of the […]

  17. Finishing up another KnowSchool course | Betty Online - November 14, 2008

    […] I’ve collected a number of really excellent resources for my own teaching. This includes sites with information about blogging and tech savie stuff. Particularly good ones include Cristina Costa’s wiki, Konrad Glogowsky’s blog on How to Grow a Blog. […]

  18. Rising Voices » How (and how not) to teach blogging - March 9, 2009

    […] this note, I found some great resources on the site ‘teachandlearn.ca’ on ‘How to grow a blog‘. This covers a lot of great material focusing on how to set long and short-term goals for […]

  19. How (and how not) to teach blogging « Hblog.org - March 9, 2009

    […] this note, I found some great resources on the site ‘teachandlearn.ca’ on ‘How to grow a blog‘. This covers a lot of great material focusing on how to set long and short-term goals for […]

  20. THING 7c BLOGGING | BOSTBLOG - March 21, 2009

    […] took me to these thoughtful blogs.  I followed the trail to the these other blogs by Karl Fisch, Konrad Glowgowski, Kris […]

  21. Assessment when using Blogs and Wikis with students as producers « Never Mind the Pedagogy - April 15, 2009

    […] with a corresponding blog post. […]

  22. While the ink is still wet » Blog Archive » Organic blogging - May 17, 2009

    […] With my first raised bed within arms reach, I started searching for the design your veg garden tool that I came across last year. By complete chance, I found a blog post about growing blogs, and the opening section talked of the experience of learning – the value of the process – which seemed to me to be an interesting follow on from the end of my previous post. Admittedly, it’s an academically themed post, but it’s well written, and I’m pleased to see debates about engaging young people in learning outside the creativity agenda in the UK. You can read Konrad’s blog here. […]

  23. On the Other Side of the Brain » Hunt for Professionalism - July 15, 2009

    […] reaction is that this looks like more of the same, preaching to the converted, as the ideas in this post are on how to foster student blogging. But upon a closer reading of this related post, I wonder if […]

  24. Blog « Medien und Schule - July 17, 2009

    […] Blog als ihr persönliches Tor zur Welt zu führen und sich mit anderen Experten zu vernetzen”. (http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2007/10/27/how-to-grow-a-blog/) Veröffentlicht in Anwendungen. Kommentar schreiben […]

  25. Lehrerblogs « shift. - October 16, 2009

    […] einzelnen Schulcommunity und der Schüler- und Elternpartizipation über Blogs das Hauptthema. Die Beispiele dafür sind Legion. Zu wünschen ist, dass die (Selbst-) Erfahrungen der bloggenden Lehrer in […]

  26. Growing Your Blog « Technology and Digital Media in English/Language Arts - June 23, 2010

    […] of Proximal Development, which shares a variety of tips for blogging with students such as How to Grow a Blog and Towards Reflective […]

  27. Downloading Evaluative Knowledge | blog of proximal development - February 17, 2012

    […] (For a high-resolution version of this diagram, please click here. For a more extensive discussion of this tool, please see my blog post, How to Grow a Blog.) […]

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