Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs

16 03 2007

I came up with this activity to demonstrate to teachers what (mo)blogs are, how they work, and why they can be such a powerful strategy for empowering and engaging learners. I’ve used it on a number of occasions – first for a Social Web Professional Development Day in July 2006, and most recently, last Friday, at a Professional Development workshop on M-Learning, for the University of Canberra. I’m pleased to see it has also been used by others I’ve taught it to, as a fun and accurate way to explain blogging – and it doesn’t even need a computer!

UC Mobile LearnersObjective:

To provide a hands-on, interactive explanation of (mo)blogging, and the way that blogs can be used in education as powerful learning tools.

Participants:

For a group of 6 or more workshop participants. The bigger the group, the better and more fun.

Materials:

  • A5 sheets of Paper – one per participant, and preferably in many colours
  • Writing implements – lots of colours of ballpoint pens and/or colourful textas
  • Post-It Notes – I use 47.6 x 73mm ones. If you can find some colourful ones around this size, so much the better. :)

Procedure:

  1. Place the Materials (listed above) in the middle of the activity space. Explain that this represents a Blogging Site: a place that provides you with all of the tools you need to set up and publish a blog.
  2. Invite participants to choose a sheet of Paper for themselves in any colour, as well as a pad of Post-It Notes and some Writing Implements. Explain that this represents how blogging sites allow users to customise the appearance of their own blogs, and personalise them.
  3. Tell the participants that they are about to write their very first blog post. (I like to get participants to blog about “Food and Drink” for this activity, because everyone has their own favourites, and it makes this exercise more fun; but you might have your own topic in mind). Ask them to write a paragraph or so about their favourite food or drink, and to draw a picture of it.
  4. Ask participants to also “tag” their post, by adding some summary information at the bottom: for example, whether this item is served hot or cold; whether it is a food or a drink; or whether it is served as an entree, main course, or dessert.
  5. Now everyone puts their posts back in the middle, and you invite participants to each take someone else’s post. Ask them to comment on the content, by writing their comments on Post-It Notes and sticking them onto the original post: for example, do they agree or disagree with the original poster’s favourite food? Do they like the picture that the original poster drew? Tell them that blogs allow this kind of commenting” by readers, which can help learners to consider new ideas and reflect on their own in new ways.
  6. Get participants to keep putting their commented posts back into the Blogging Site for others to read and comment. They are allowed to review their own blogs at any stage and remove comments they don’t think are useful, or comment on each others’ comments, too. When this has gone on for a little while, and all of the blogs have at least a couple of comments on them, get everyone to put all the blogs back in the middle and to find their own. The multicoloured paper helps to make this much simpler. :) They should have lots of fun reading their comments!
  7. Explain that this is what social software, such as blogs, is all about: sharing and exchanging ideas to build new ideas and new knowledge.
  8. Get everyone on their feet, and ask anyone whose food or drink is (or could be) served hot to stand on your left, and everyone else to stand on your right. Explain that this demonstrates how “tags” or “categories” are used to organise information in blogs, which are usually also searchable, to make it easy to discover new information in other people’s blogs.
  9. As a final (optional) activity, ask everyone to write another (brief) blog post on another favourite food or beverage, and to come and stand in front of you when they finish. Explain that most blogs allow readers to subscribe to them in various ways – with RSS being the most popular – which allows readers to be immediately informed if a blogger updates their blog, without having to visit each site.

You can certainly expand on and vary this activity to suit your participants, but this sequence communicates most of the important principles of blogging, without a computer in sight, and uses visual, auditory and kinaesthetic aspects to engage learners with all learning styles, which makes this a very fun activity for all.

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16 responses to “Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs”

    16 03 2007
      Andreas (17:06:33) :     

    Great workshop idea, came for at the right time. I just argued howI can teach other what blogs are all about, now I know how to do it. Thanks for sharing this.
    One question left, how are your experiences on doing this workshop?

    16 03 2007
      col (23:13:49) :     

    Soooo the post-it notes are for the comments? (Sorry, this is a little unclear)

    Great game though. :)

    17 03 2007
      Danita Russell (15:28:57) :     

    Awesome activity! Too bad I’ve already completed my workshop on blogging. Maybe I can use this next year.

    Great post!
    Danita

    21 03 2007
      Leonard Low (13:38:58) :     

    Andreas asked:

    “…how are your experiences on doing this workshop?”

    This workshop activity has been well received every time it’s been presented. If you’re a lively presenter, it helps somewhat, but most teachers should be capable of making the participants enjoy this activity. Feedback from the New Zealand workshop is that people wouldn’t leave the room at the end of the activity – they were too busy “blogging”!

    23 03 2007
      CB (02:50:16) :     

    It would be useful to have a Post-it II for privacy issues. This is one of the harder issues to convey to new http://edublogs.org classroom users, that anyone can participate, not just the ones with “Hello, my name is” on their chests, the advantage and complication of world-wide webbing.

    26 03 2007
      Marg (10:22:49) :     

    Len, this workshop approach worked really well when I co-presented a blogging workshop at a conference in NZ last year. Great idea!

    Andreas, you might find some of our feedback useful, as we tried to capture as much as we could from the session on this wiki. I’d really like to hear how your session turns out too!

    Cheers, Marg

    27 03 2007
      Catherine Carey (02:50:24) :     

    Wonderful!

    I’m wanting to start a group blog for my community. This gives me a tool to explain it to my fellow activists.

    Thanks to Beth Kanter for pointing us to your wonderful educational blog post.

    16 04 2007
      Emma (23:17:16) :     

    I’m not quite sure how I found this site initially, (link from a link kind of thing), however, I’m starting to put together a set of resources to take with me to Sofia to present to students a session about blogging, and how it might be applicable to them. I’ve no idea what sort of classroom I’ll have – nor if the students will have (immediate) access to computers. This is going to be a very useful tool I feel (now, to remember that I’ve commented & give you feedback later! – the session isn’t till late May though)

    29 04 2007
      Sue Rockwood (00:54:33) :     

    I’ve adapted this concept and used it with Intermediate and Middle School level students, and blogged about my success! http://bookwyrmish.edublogs.org/?s=paper+blog&searchbutton=go%21
    I’ve been asked to share my lesson plan, which credits your workshop post as giving me the idea, but wanted to get your ok. I don’t see a Creative Commons type – derivative work or share license on your blog? Can I post my lesson plan with your blessing?
    –best,
    Sue

    20 06 2007
      Kerry (19:57:10) :     

    An excellent educational article on the nature and purpose of blogsites.
    I have been building a multi-category blogsite with automatic search and posting of articles from the internet and I would appreciate any feedback.

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