Welcome to the tenth step in our free professional learning series on class and student blogging!
The aim of this step is to:
- Explain the value of connecting with other classes
- Demonstrate the types of projects educators use to develop global connections through blogging
Why Connect With Other Classes?
Connecting with other classes can have a huge impact on your class blog because:
- Your students benefit from having an authentic and global audience
- You gain from being supported by other educators — increasing your skills and developing new ideas that benefit your students
If you haven’t yet seen this video, watch Silvia Tolisano, Andrea Hernandez, and their students explain why connecting with other classes is important in The Possibilities of Student Blogging.
There are many reasons why global collaboration is worthwhile.
- Connecting with other classes around the world is fun! Global collaboration often seems to spark a natural sense of curiosity and wonder, even for those who are disengaged with some aspects of traditional schooling.
- Developing global competence is a must. If we want our students to thrive in a changing labor market, live harmoniously together, and work together to solve some of our world’s big problems, they need to be comfortable with global collaboration.
- The curriculum can come alive. Many teachers worry that global collaboration is an “add-on” which they don’t have time for with a busy curriculum. To the contrary, global projects can offer an authentic and innovative way to teach and go beyond learning benchmarks.
- Global collaboration is purposeful and productive. We know our students are online. A lot. But what are they doing online? Playing games? Taking selfies? Texting? We all need downtime but perhaps we could tap into this interest in the online world and help students connect more purposefully and productively? Global collaboration could be a piece of that puzzle. This sentiment is echoed by George Couros in his post, Hope is Not a Strategy.
- An authentic audience is powerful. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions and so on which pushes blogging further. An authentic audience generally motivates students and encourages them to do their ‘best work’.
Like the idea of connecting with other classes but not sure how to find connections? Read Kathleen Morris’s Do and Don’t for forming friendships with other blogging classes.
How To Get Started
There is a wide range of options for connecting your class blogs (or student blogs) with other classes including.
Here are a few popular entry points.
Student Blogging Challenge
The Student Blogging Challenge runs twice yearly starting in March and October. It is made up of a series of 8 weekly tasks all designed to improve blogging and commenting skills while connecting students with a global audience and being supported by a team of blogging mentors.
The Challenge is open to both class blogs and to individual student bloggers from all over the world and of all ages. Participants can complete as many of the tasks as they like and in any order.
Quad Blogging or Team Blogging
Quad blogging or team blogging involves connecting your class to a quad group of four schools/classes (a group of four is a popular choice but it can be more or less).
The idea behind quad blogging is each classroom takes a turn for a week being the focal point of the quad.
During this time the other classes engage with that class blog, participate in any activities the focus class initiates, and takes time to learn about that class, their school, and region.
Watch this video to learn more about quad blogging.
You can create your own quad blog by finding other class blogs who would like to participate in a quad.
Here as some different ways of finding class blogs to join a quad:
Once you’ve found a class blog that has students of a similar age to your students, and a similar approach to blogging, contact the teacher via Twitter, send an email, or leave a comment on a post on the class blog. They might know other classes who’d like to take part too.
Learn more about how to organise team blogging experiences in our post on finding authentic audiences for your students.
100 Word Challenge
100 Word Challenge is a popular project run by retired English head teacher, Julia Skinner. Each week a prompt is published and students are invited to respond in under 100 words. Julia can also help connect your class with a hub where three classes from around the world band together to support each other with comments.
Additionally, Julia has a team of volunteers who comment on students’ work each week.
Find out more about how this project works in our interview with Julia Skinner.
International Dot Day
Every year, millions of students and educators connect on or around September 15th to celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration.
Participating in International Dot Day is simple. You sign up on the website, read The Dot book to your class, and express yourself in any way that’s in line with themes from the book. Then finally, you’re invited to connect with other classes around the world and the Dot Day organizers can help you do this.
Find out more about participating in International Dot Day in our 2019 post.
Skype in the Classroom
Skype in the Classroom is an online community that enables teachers to bring the world into their classroom via Skype.
- Go on virtual field trips
- Play Mystery Skype
- Meet with guest speakers
- Participate in a global collaboration project
- Take part in a Skype lesson
Teachers can sign up for Skype in the Classroom on the Microsoft Educator website.
Find out more about Skype in the Classroom in our interview with Skype Master Teacher, Julie Hembree. This post also includes tips for a successful Skype call.
Below are examples of class blogs sharing their Mystery Location sessions:
The Global Read Aloud
The Global Read Aloud was created by Pernille Ripp in 2010 and is now very popular. It is a yearly event that spans six weeks starting each October.
Participants sign up to read the same book aloud to their students and then use any form of technology (Skype, blogs, Edmodo etc.) to connect throughout the six weeks.
This quote from Pernille explains The Global Read Aloud concept,
Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin.
Lots of educators use class Twitter accounts in conjunction with their class blogs to connect with other classes and content experts.
Here are some tips for using Twitter with students:
- Set up a classroom Twitter account separate from your personal account. Many teachers allow their students to log into the class Twitter account during class to compose tweets but the tweets aren’t allowed to be sent until checked by the teacher or an adult.
- If you decide to use a personal hashtag, make sure it isn’t being used by others.
- Carefully select who you follow as students will see all tweets by any account you are following. Drew Frank’s Classroom Twitter list is a good place to find other class Twitter accounts to follow.
- Make sure parents are aware you are using Twitter in class and check your school’s policies to find out if parents need to sign a permission form. Here’s an example information and permission form from Brookside Primary School which may offer you some ideas. Remember, to always follow your own school or district policies.
Watch this video to learn how Ms. Cassidy’s Grade One students used Twitter in their classroom.
To learn more about using Twitter, refer to The Educator’s Ultimate Twitter Guide.
Comments4kids is a hashtag used by educators to tweet student posts that deserve to be commented on. This might include students who need encouragement or exceptional work.
Read more about #Comments4 kids here.
To learn more about using Twitter refer to The Educator’s Ultimate Twitter Guide.
Add a visitor tracking widget to your sidebar so your students and readers can see who is visiting the blog and add a widget to encourage visitors to leave a comment.
Below is a screenshot of the text widget in the sidebar of Super Six Sevens Class blog encouraging visitors to leave a comment.
Learn More About Connecting
Check out The Edublogger’s Guide To Global Collaboration for more ideas on connecting with other classes.
We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about student blogging by completing the following tasks:
- Check our list of How to get started connecting with other classes. Leave a comment and let us know which of these options you are going to try with your students and why! For example, if you’ve decided to participate in the next Student Blogging Challenge tell us what you would like to achieve by participating in the challenge.
- Read through the most recent comments in reply to this step and leave a response to another person’s comment.
175 thoughts on “Step 10: Connect With Other Classes”
I would. like to participate in the Skype into the classroom .I think being able to explore virtually is a great way to interact.
I used to skype before; I want to get into Twitter.
Quad blogging is an awesome way to go. Connecting learners with learners is a powerful way to increase achievement. Learners are engaged and love it!
In the upcoming year, I would like to plan a few Skype sessions for my students with authors or Peace Corps volunteers in order to broaden their worldview!
I choose the same thing as well. I have used this before for classrooms and the students loved it.
I like the Student Blogging Challenge and plan to give that a try. I’ve used Global Read Aloud, Dot Day, Quad Blogging, and 100 Word Challenge in the past. I’m participating in GRA this year and most likely 100 Word Challenge too. I’m excited for these great connection points for students. It is very rewarding to open up the world to students so they may learn of many similarities & differences in other places and can grow in understanding and respect for others.
The challenge looks great! Thanks!
I love many of the ideas presented in this step and I hope to participate in the challenge this year.
Quad blogging sounds like it would be a good fit for my classes. I love this idea, and am optimistic about incorporating it into my future classes.
I like the group blogging idea. If we could get them to engage in a group blog that would be so much fun.
I really like the blogging idea as well. It could be a great way to engage the students wile also teaching them the ins and outs of blogs.
Unfortunately the global read aloud project has come to an end. 2020 was the last year. Sad face
Good news – #GRA21 is happening! I was surprised when I came across the news on Instagram several months ago.
I am promoting the student blogging challenge with the districts I work in and hope I get many to participate. (We’ll be using a different blogging platform, though.) I still have concerns about students’ saftey and privacy when connecting globally.
Thanks for promoting the challenge! I hope you can get some colleagues on board.
Student safety and privacy has always been a taken very seriously. One of the main goals of the challenge is to help students learn how to publish and communicate online safely. We know students do this anyway so opportunities like the Student Blogging Challenge can really help them develop these skills in a low-risk environment.
While blogs need to be public to participate (for obvious reasons, otherwise participants can’t visit and comment), there are a lot of options and choices available to protect students. For example, students aren’t required to publish photos of themselves (if they do choose to publish photos they’ll learn how to do this in a safer way). Some teachers also have students adopt a pen name which is a great approach. With the combination of pen names and/or no real photos shared, student safety can be really enhanced. Teachers who use Edublogs can also choose to moderate students’ blog posts and/or comments before they’re public on the web.
Please let’s know if you have any other specific questions or concerns we can help with!
Thank you so much! I do agree that it’s a great way to teach digital citizenship and online safety! We can’t use a fear-based strategy.
I really like the idea of the student blogging challenge and am looking forward to having students connect globally, especially since we are working on becoming a global school.
I like the idea of a group blog. I would do this in my classroom to build a culture, and get the students to build relationships with one another. It would also be good for an upper elementary classroom so they can learn to successfully work in groups. I would probably switch the teams up every so often as well.
Hmmm… a group blog sounds an interesting idea. I’d love to hear how it went.
We are using Twitter.
I would be interested in trying quad blogging with my (future) students. By providing a wider audience, I believe student engagement would be increased. I believe students would have a greater sense of purpose for writing. I also like the idea of students being able to connect and share ideas with students living in other areas.
I think quad blogging is a great idea and I am going to do that in my classroom!
totally agree with that. Connecting with other students would be a bonus.
I personally really like the Twitter method because it’s something most kids these days are familiar with and it’s easily accessible in many parts of the world, which can make global communication with classrooms easier
This is the exact reason I did it!
I need to get back to using Twitter with students. Those active on it usually give quick response or likes or retweets. Every time that happened in the past, my kids thought it was very surprising and exciting. Sure did rev up the energy for learning!
After reading all of the great ways to connect with other classes, I am definitely going to use the 100 word challenge. Each week a prompt is given and students are invited to respond in under 100 words. I think this is a great way to help students develop writing skills, voice their opinions, and follow directions. This skill is so beneficial to students because writing and reading is a huge part of the learning process. They will also be able to connect with other students around the world, and Julia Skinner has volunteers to comment on the writings of the children. This way not only will the students be practicing on their writing skills, but will receive positive feedback, which will help boost their confidence and make them want to continue the process. I will for sure be using the 100 word challenge in my 3rd grade class!
Katlyn, thanks for sharing your thoughts here, the 100-word challenge is a great way to develop writing skills as well as learning how to interact with others online.
My students are going to start using their blog everyday either in the classroom or once they get home. I feel that this is a good way to allow students to talk freely and get stuff off of their chests that they may not be able to do in person. This will also allow my students to build a strong bond with one another.
I am starting with my students (from each of my five classes) connecting to each other. I am using InLinkz to open link parties. So far the students are enjoying what others outside of their classroom have written.
I have signed up to be a commenter for October’s Student Blogging Challenge. I want to see the challenge in action before asking my students to participate in March.
The Student Blogging Challenge is coming up in October! I would like to challenge my students who are interested to engage in blogging. Since we are offering an elective in first grade, maybe blogging could be one of those? I want students to gain interest and motivation to share their thoughts in a multitude of ways, blogging being one option!
Yes, registrations just opened for the Student Blogging Challenge so feel free to extend the invitation to your students!
Edublogs Community Manager
I hope to see some of your students in the challenge. I will be a commenter for the October challenge.
I was reading about the student blogging challenge, and I feel that is a great way to challenge students in blogging as well. Giving students motivation to blog is so important with all the advantages in technology. Good job with your blog and all your great ideas!!
I CAN NOT WAIT TO GET MY KIDS STARTED!! I am going to have my students complete the student blogging challenge so they are exposed to different ways to post information and content. I want them to meet students from other schools and be connected to a global community. I am excited about all of the different skills that they are going to be learning from digital tools, digital citizenship, global perspective, and reading and writing tools! I have shared what I am doing with other teachers and they are also going to sign up, this is so exciting!
YAY! I think we should try connecting our classes together in October! I think it could be fun!
The student blogging challenge sounds like a great way to make authentic connections for the students. Knowing that someone else in the world beyond your own community is looking at your work may be motivating enough to get the most reluctant writers to buy-in.
I completely agree, students are so driven to be seen through technology. When I ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up, they say “you tubers”. I truly feel that student blogs is a great way to personalize, create buy in, and motivate students to publish authenic works!
Great idea 🙂
I like the idea of the Student Blogging Challenge. I think this would get students motivated and interested in blogging. It would give them an incentive and a purpose for blogging. I like the global, far-reaching impact this challenge has a well. It would be great to use in class.
I will definitively go with Quad Blogging or Team Blogging. I think it is a great way to connect students in the same school who are taking the same class but are not connected to each other. Collaborative learning is a very important skill, and this method will introduce students to learn collaboratively even when they aren’t sharing the same classroom space.
My students are not quite ready to join the Student Blogging Challenge just quite yet. They are novice bloggers–still figuring out what blogging is and the whys and hows of it being great vehicle for their creative writing works. I’d like to connect my kids with other creative writers and will be looking for those connections in the coming months, via the EPals web platform.
Great idea! There is no need to try to rush your students into the blogging challenge, there is plenty of time to do that once you know that they are ready for it.
I plan on using the student blog challenge this year as a way to introduce my students to blogging and allow them to experience connecting with people outside of our small community. I also want to use the 100 word challenge with my students to get them writing and thinking.
Next year I want to include the global read aloud. My students love being read to and it would be great for them to connect with other students and share their thoughts on a shared reading experience.
I really hope your students enjoy the Student Blogging Challenge! It was started for the very same reason you mentioned. Sue Wyatt was a teacher in Tasmania Australia who wanted to show her students more of the world outside of their school community. The challenge has really grown since it began in 2008 and it’s exciting to have so many different countries involved now!
I think all of these ideas are great. It is important for students to think about global issues as well. The Student Blogging Challenge, the Global Read Aloud, and the 100 Word Challenge would help student to think about others around the world. I think the 100 Word Challenge would also help students jog their thoughts by commenting on others’ posts.
I would love to join the Student Blogging Challenge this year, but we are just not quite ready. My goal is to get our blog set up and have a few students begin blogging this year. Then hopefully by October we will be ready to all try it. For now, I think our students will just be excited that their parents are seeing all the work being done in class.
Mrs Kissel, we will have another challenge in October so perhaps that timing will suit you better to join us!
Next year I plan to use Skype in the classroom for either a virtual field trip or a guest speaker. I think this brings a lot of richness into the classroom, and Skype is a wonderful tool. Connecting with another class via Skype would also be wonderful particularly in an area of the world we are studying.
My students are enthralled with the opportunity to make connections with classes outside of Arizona. We have exchanged comments with several other student blogs and are lucky enough to have visitors from other countries drop by to offer feedback and encouragement.
I hope that by participating in the Student Blogging Challenge we can learn more about students in new locations and share experiences.
We are the only blogging class in my district, and it is my hope that our example will prod other teachers into jumping on the blogging bandwagon.
My pupils have learning difficulties. Their literacy skills are low, although they do try their best.
Ideally, I would like to link up with another class that is similar to mine. I have looked at the blog list and found only one Special Ed blog.
I suppose what I will have to do is connect to an Art blog. Alternatively, I can try to persuade other Enhanced Provision classes in my area (I know about three in the vicinity) to start up edublogs and link with them. But it would be more educational to link with classes further afield.
All good ideas, and perhaps you could encourage other classes to give it a go! 🙂
Wow, that si something I didn´t thing about before. First is the problem that I teach dance analysis which is something that you cannot find everywhere… I don´t know how to find another blog with similar interest.
But, the point is that I have a group of students who are profesional dancers, traveling around the world the whole years, and one of the first ideas to create this blog was to connect this profesional students with the ones coming to the class. And this is working very good, so I think I will keep on trying to improve this connection for a while.
That sounds like a great idea! I bet those connections are really powerful 🙂
Edublogs Community Manager
I think for the purpose of our 20% blog it makes most sense to connect with other students doing 20% projects via Twitter or Skype. I look forward to trying to get a more global audience for our students, especially because their projects are community based.
I agree. Contacting with others working on the same ideas would be very helpful. We just started Genius Hour this year at our school and are always looking for new ideas.
We are creating a blogging club to begin with so won’t have any other classes to interact with. Therefore we are planning on giving our student the 100 word challenge, giving them the opportunity to become published authors. This will not only expose them to quality comments but engage them in their writing too.
I love the idea of a blogging club. I used to run one at my primary school too and it was great to work with an enthusiastic group of bloggers. 100 Word Challenge sounds perfect. You might also be interested in looking at the Student Blogging Challenge which runs for 10 weeks from March 3. You can find out more here! https://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/2019/02/02/march-challenge/
Edublogs Community Manager
I started a blogging club several years ago. It was an after-school club , and was very popular and over-subscribed. It included students from the youngest to the oldest. They soon became very adept at using the medium. They also became very competitive, counting how many comments each pupil had been able to attract and discussing the reasons why some postings were popular and others weren’t. They learned much from this. In time, the blog evolved into a school (printed) newspaper.
I think blogging is a wonderful educational tool.
A blogging club sounds like a great idea! I can see it really motivating young writers. There are a lot of extended day and after school programs for kids that are held at schools. It would be a great club to implement in some of these programs!
Did you find it was difficult to keep us with reading all the writing of posts and comments?
I plan on having my classes interact with each other on the blog since I teach 7th, 9th, and 11th. As for now, I think I’m too late in the year to get parents to back me on collaborating with other schools – but next year, I’ll put an opt-out agreement on the syllabus so I can start fresh from the very beginning!
That is a great idea, your students can learn a lot from each other!
I will have to start by connecting with other classes in my school/district. This will give me a chance to try out connecting with other classes/teachers on a smaller scale. I like the idea of asking visitors to leave comments. That is a great way for students to see how far a blog can reach.
I agree! I think it could really change the way students think about writing if it is going to made public for even more than their classmates and parents to see. It can be super powerful!
My creative writing students are blogging as a way to build their writing portfolio, as well as building some authenticity into what we do in class. Our school is starting a literary journal class next school year, and my creative writing students will be able to link their blogs to their lit journal applications. They are excited about that aspect of connecting to other classes. Of course, that is the in confines of our building. It’s something entirely different when we venture to connect to others outside of our school. I think that if my students connect to other high schools in our district, that will open up the gateway for getting their work out to a wider audience. I am friendly with another creative writing teacher in my district. I guess a phone call is in order. lol
I like the idea of having students in a creative writing class using the blogging platform to share their work and get feedback and ideas from others. I have been asked to consider a creative writing class as an elective next year. I think this might be the direction I want to head also.
I have discussed the overlap between my classes and the Art Department with the department head and she seems interested in taking up edublog portfolio development with the art classes. This would set us up for a team blogging scenario at WAHS. This would be a benefit to students by connecting what they learn in the traditional art classroom to what we learn in digital art.
I think its great to connect to another class in your building. Starting small seems wise. My creative writing students would work well with our art classes…maybe linking up to find illustrators for their writing pieces. Your comment really got me thinking bigger. Thanks.
Oh, I like the idea of pairing with the art department even with my English classes. Maybe using their art as writing prompts… Not exactly what you’re getting at but inspiration nonetheless!
Connecting with other classes is a tricky one for me. I have had a lot of encouragement from my administrator to start blogging with students, but there is a vast concern about safety. I was able to come up with a plan that would accomplish the practice of connecting with another class at a level that would reduce concerns about safety with student blogging. The plan basically includes starting in building with another class, then across the district, and ultimately to a classroom in another city. Small steps are needed in connection with this phase of blogging for me.
That’s great you’ve found a way to for it work! I’m actually working on a post for The Edublogger about finding connections and an audience for your students work. I suggest starting with fellow classmates and then building from there. Gradual progression with blogging can work really well!
I am also looking at a gradual rollout model with my 8 high school seniors this year. If it goes well, I will expand to my 11th grade class. Safety is the number one concern for me as well and I appreciate the moderation tools offered by edublogs.
The way I (we) have connected with other classes is to ‘teach’ what we have learnt so far. I is a great way to reinforce what the class have learnt and then they sow their ability or areas for improvment though teaching anotehr class.
They get lots of teacher time from me and lots of practise time and then they teach. The process is recored by the blogger of the week and then we watch it back as a resource for improvement. The students are ‘experts’ at feedback and are always imroving.
I completly agree with your point on small steps and my next step is to find a link school. So will be iterestd to see how you find the process.
Having your students teach another class through the blog is a great idea. I will be using that idea right away. Thank you!
This seems like a great plan that I could follow too. Soon as my after school club become the experts at blogging, they can then teach other small groups everything they have learnt.
I love the idea of students connecting with other classes by teaching what they have learned. The best way to solidify something one has learned is to teach it to someone else!
One of the ways I connected with another blogging classroom was to talk about my student blogs on Instagram. Another teacher reached out asking about our process and we connected our students last year. This year has been a slower blogging process so we haven’t been able to connect with any one class, however, we will be connecting with an organization. We had a virtual guest speaker from Their Story is Our Story to share information about working with refugees. Students are going to blog about their experience and share how others can get involved.
I’m teaching in higher education, and do not see any other classes using this platform at the same level, which is sad but I may have to start talking up the concept to colleagues.
You should definitely talk up the potential to colleagues! While Edublogs is popular in K-12, Edublogs’ sister service is called CampusPress and it’s very popular in higher ed. For just one example, you might like to take a look at NTU in Singapore and the different ways they’re using blogs https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/
What if you had your students take the mentor approach to connecting with high school or middle school students? They could offer sage advice or practice writing to a specific, younger audience. Just a thought.
My class shares our blogs with our pen pals (who don’t have blogs), and we participated in the Student Blogging Challenge this fall. I’m planning to participate in the Global Read Aloud next year and will be collaborating on Padlet, Skype, and our blogs
This sounds great. Maybe I’ll try one.
My students have been using Edublogs to partner with a class in Canada (we are in Indiana) for the Global Read Aloud. It has been so great to share the novel Refugee with another class! We have commented on each other’s class blog posts and collaborated on a timeline project. My goal was to get my students to care more about their writing. The object was to give them an authentic audience so that they would take more pride in what they write.
What an awesome experience of global collaboration! An authentic audience sure can have impact. Thanks for sharing, Heidi.
In March, I plan to have my students participate in the Student Blogging Challenge since we missed it this month. Two other ideas that I can’t wait to try are the 100 Word Challenge and The Global Read Aloud. The 100 Word Challenge would help my students not only connect with others, but also practice conciseness. In addition, because I teach in a small school with very little diversity, The Global Read Aloud would allow my students to connect with others who will likely be very different from them.
The Student Blogging Challenge begins this week. You’re welcome to join in late if it suits you. Otherwise, definitely keep it in mind for March as you intended!
100 Word Challenge and The Global Read Aloud area also popular choices. I’m sure your students will love them!
I highly recommend the Global Read Aloud. There are lots of great ways to make connections through the Facebook group. I specifically asked for another class using Edublogs, and partnering with them has been a wonderful experience.