You’ve gotten your students blogging about amazing things, but how on earth are you supposed to keep track of them.  Even worse, how are you supposed to grade them (or are you)?

To Grade or Not to Grade

That is the question.  Seriously.

There are several views on this.  On the one hand, we want students to write for the sheer joy of writing.  We want blogging to be organic, a way for students to express themselves and mull the deeper mysteries of life and learning.  We want them to be able to say what they need to say, without worrying about artificial requirements and grades.

But, on the other hand, blogs are a learning and teaching tool.  They are a useful way to track student writing and growth as a writer.  And, sometimes, beyond being required to actually grade work, some students just won’t do “work” that isn’t graded.

So, what to do?  That is up to you.  There’s not a right answer to that question.  It really does depend on the purposes you have and the requirements (or not) of your classroom/school.

Herding Blogs

If you’re still reading, I’m assuming that you’re planning on grading your students’ blogs (at least one time).  However, in order to grade their blogs, you have to know each student’s blog address and go to each student’s blog… each time.  If you’re like me, and you teach 100+ students, this thought makes you want to start crying and just give up the whole idea.

But wait!  There’s a solution, and it’s actually quite easy!

Create a Form

First, you’re going to need to create a Google Form.  This form needs to collect at the very least

  • your students’ names
  • your students’ blog URL (or the link to their reflection page, depending on how you’ve set things up)

If you are having your students blog with a pseudonym, you will also want to collect that information.

Here’s what my form looks like:

[av_image src=’http://kindledclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-9.27.56-AM-495×400.png’ attachment=’302301′ attachment_size=’portfolio’ align=’center’ animation=’bottom-to-top’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’][/av_image]

 

Here’s what the collected information looks like:

[av_image src=’http://kindledclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-9.29.01-AM-495×85.png’ attachment=’302302′ attachment_size=’portfolio’ align=’center’ animation=’bottom-to-top’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’][/av_image]

 

Enter the RSS Reader

Next, you’ll need an RSS reader. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and essentially, it’s a way to collect the sites you want to read regularly in one place so you don’t have to run all over the Internet.  It brings the Internet to you!

I use Feedly.com as my RSS reader, but then I actually use another reader (Leaf for iOS) because it’s prettier.

This is Feedly:

[av_image src=’http://kindledclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-9.32.06-AM-845×321.png’ attachment=’302303′ attachment_size=’entry_with_sidebar’ align=’center’ animation=’bottom-to-top’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’][/av_image]

 

Once you’ve signed in, you add each student’s blog to your feed.  I like to organize mine a little, so I create a group (like a folder) for each class.  Then, when I add each student blog, I name it starting with the class period then last initial and then first name (3 Y. Amanda).  This helps me to organize them alphabetically.

Here’s my Leaf feed:

[av_image src=’http://kindledclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-9.47.29-AM.png’ attachment=’302304′ attachment_size=’full’ align=’center’ animation=’bottom-to-top’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’][/av_image]

 

Now, each time your student posts to their blog, it will show up in your RSS feed (this is also indicated with a little number by his or her name).  You can read the post right there in the RSS feed without going all over the place.

It looks a bit like this:

[av_image src=’http://kindledclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-9.48.24-AM-845×321.png’ attachment=’302306′ attachment_size=’entry_with_sidebar’ align=’center’ animation=’bottom-to-top’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’][/av_image]

 

Option 2: Use an LMS like Canvas that makes grading blogs even easier.  But, that’s a post for another time.

 

What Now?

How you choose to grade is up to you.  I use a rubric that focuses on content, elements/format, and conventions.

  • Content: have they written a thoughtful post and, if necessary included supporting details (or, if relevant, have they posted about whatever was required)
  • Elements/Format: have they linked to outside resources, included at least one properly-cited image, used headers to break up their content, and used spacing and paragraphing to make their post more readable
  • Conventions: spelling, grammar, etc.

Regardless of your method, obviously you should base your grading on the requirements you’ve set for your students, considering their age and ability.

Breathe

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Now, go forth and blog!

 

Coming next: My favorite blogging resources

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