When students blog, they write on a topic of their choice. I say write, but they can also use more images than words or create a video blog with a short written description. The choice is the students.
My students have blogged for years. In the beginning, we used KidBlog, but for the past few years, we have used Google Sites. While Google Sites does not have the option to leave comments, it is easy to use and can be used for other academic projects. Why teach a student a new platform when they can use the simplistic tools of Google Apps?
Teaching Google Sites Blogs during a pandemic when I do NOT have students in the same room is challenging, but not possible. The key is to break the steps into 4-5 per writing lessons. That and using software like GoGuardian to view student screens. I have faith that the process will be easier.
I created step-by-step directions for students that you are welcome to use. Why recreate your own videos when you can use these? Your time is valuable. Some of these directions point students to the Insert section but does not demonstrate how to use it. I did this on purpose.
Create a Model Google Site Blog
I do, however, recommend that you create your own blog as a model and as a way for students to get to know you. Because my example included places I traveled, many of my students followed suit. I am fortunate to have a gtrainerdemo account that I call Hannah Banana (hence, explaining the bananas on the website). I wish more teachers had a student account. Here is the example website. Notice the various layouts I demonstrated. You can do the same when creating a Google Site from your account.
What You Should Know
The purpose of students adding the Google Site to a Google Classroom Assignment is to properly share and store the Google Site in one spot. In the future, students will only submit links to a Google Classroom Question.
When a student submits a Google Classroom assignment, the file's ownership changes. The teacher must return the assignment to the student. If the assignment is not returned, students will not have any Edit access.
Learn from my Lesson 1 Mistakes
I thought that students could watch the videos at their own pace and complete the tasks. After all, I only had four steps with written and video directions. Not so. While some students could, other students need step-by-step verbal directions directly from the teacher. I am reminded that in the classroom, I would teach those directions for those who need it and allow the other students to work ahead. That was my mistake.
No worries though. Students voluntarily stayed in our Zoom call to finish the assignment. I am grateful for screen sharing and GoGuardian to help me see student screens. I should write a blog on GoGuardian.
If you looked at the Lesson 2 image of the Google Classroom Question and thought But not all students finished their blog, you would be right. We were testing. You know how lovely the beginning of the school testing is, especially during a pandemic when students are at home and not in the classroom. (Yes, I want students to be safe at home. No, I do not like testing this way). As such 1/2 the students work on their Google Site while the other half were in a Breakout Room during their test. (I learned to use two computers at the same time to be in both rooms).
Create a September Page
Teachers should have their own Google Sites Blog. This is because 1) we need to know possible student struggles and 2) we can inspire our students. I wrote my September blog about Chadwick Boseman. The superhero movie Black Panther inspired me to rewrite our Africa and Mesoamerica history units that centered on pride.
What You Should Know
Lesson 2 has five steps. The first step is to find their previous blog. Ideally, students would have bookmarked the blog in the previous lesson, but I feared giving students too many steps in the first week. Those students who read the directions or played the video had few issues. I had to help the other students, repeating directions over and over.
Learn from my Lesson 2 Mistakes
After I taught this lesson, I returned to Lesson 1 directions and added a step to Bookmark the Google Site. This evens out the steps and teaches students to organize their work. I thought it was super sweet when students remembered how to use Sites.new to create a new site. It means that they were listening. They just did not understand that we were using the same Google Site over and over. Their effort to do right, fail, and learn from it brings pride to my soul.