More and more teachers are creating classroom blogs with students, and it's not hard to see why. Blogging is a great way to engage kids in writing. Here in Alberta, where we are still giving students standardized tests on creative writing, I would much prefer to see my students write a blog entry than the current procedure of writing a newspaper article -- it's far more relevant to their daily experience, and kids of any age enjoy the idea of writing for publication.
That said, blogging with kids does present its own unique challenges. Here are some -- and how to overcome them!
1. What program should I use for blogging?
You really can't go wrong with Kidblog. It has several nice features that make it particularly appealing to a classroom setting, such as the ability to set comments so that the teacher has to approve them, or the ability to limit your classroom privacy settings so that only people who are signed in can access your students' blogs. You can also turn these privacy settings off, leading to a flexible and convenient setup.
If for some reason you don't want to use Kidblog, I also use Blogger to make a classroom blog. This is a whole class blog, and my students all use the same google email address to sign into it. I use this for a whole class journal. If you have Google for education, or your students each have their own gmail address, you could use Blogger for individual blogs as well. Here is a link to our class reflection blog, and if you would like to connect with us, come visit us on Kidblog as well -- students would love to hear from you!
2. How can I justify spending class time blogging when we should be working on creative writing or essay writing?
You can write pretty much anything on a blog that you would write in a notebook -- it's just in a public forum, which can be a very powerful incentive for many students. They can comment on one another's work, giving you an excellent forum for group editing.
3. What if students use blogging as an excuse to write in text talk or the like?
Yup, that happens. It particularly happens in grade 6. I try to circumvent it by spending some time looking at high quality blogs written by other young writers, but I did hit a point where I just had to say, all right: if your blog post is not at least ten sentences, and that means that it contains capitals and periods, I will delete it. I'm not having students publish blogs that simply say "ya i lov hockey its so grate go flames."
On the other hand, if parents are accessing those blogs, it can give them a very quick and ready picture of what their students are writing in class!
4. What is the value of investing time in blogging?
There are a lot of things that make blogging valuable. Just a few include:
- The opportunity to read one another's writing and comment on it
- A ready audience for your writing
- A more engaging form of writing (hand them technology and they're suddenly on board!)
- A place to collect a writing portfolio readily and easily
- A way to continue writing throughout their school careers
- Easy access to student writing for parents and community members
Really, the list goes on and on. And blogging is quite easy: Kidblog takes minutes to set up, and is free. So if you've never tried blogging with your students, why not give it a shot now?
Question of the Day:
What makes you read a teaching blog?
For me, this is all about utility. I love humorous stories and I easily get sucked into jokes and irony, but if I'm going to keep checking a blog regularly, it has to be because it provides me with practical and interesting ideas to use in my classroom.Tweet
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