WHY BLOG?

The main reason for me is that students write better when they write for an audience than when they write for their teacher. They are more motivated and spend more time on their writing.

A blog is both a journal and a discussion board. Students are encouraged to write about a variety of topics, thereby learning different types of writing skills.They also get comment streams started with their classmates and often continue at home a conversation that started in the classroom.

Teachers can post resources for students to watch or listen to at home. They can be videos you saw in class or extras that relate to your current unit. Students can also post multi-media content.

We are all "digital citizens". Learning to give constructive feedback is a life skill  that students understand the value of in the classroom.

Start blogging now! You can create a class blog, where you and each of your students have their own personal blog, in 5 minutes.

Kidblog is a completely password protected site for classroom use. Kidblog makes it easy to monitor all of your students' activity. Kidblog, like Tackk, is visually attractive, kids want to read it.

SOME IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO ON YOUR BLOGS

Students can post multimedia content, including recordings that they have made on Audacity.

Students comment on class content. Instead of writing the answer to their homework question in their notebooks, they write it on the blog. This leads to much more thoughtful answers. Here you can see that I've also posted the video seen in class, everything is in one place.

Have them critique each other's work, making your marking workload a breeze!

As we teach in a monolingual environment, our students all face the same difficulties. The day an assignment is due I often project a couple of examples to the class, to work on the most common grammatical and lexical errors. Then ask everyone to go back over their work. A blog can be continually edited.

Students can also inspire each other by posting links to sites they find interesting.

The main use I find though is to showcase their work. When they put their blood, sweat and tears into a piece of creative writing, they are proud to show off to an audience.

They can also vote on their favourite story.

Comment Guidelines

The goal of commenting is for us to help each other become better writers. When commenting, focus on suggestions, not mistakes.

  • PQS: say something POSITIVE  "You did ______ really well."
  • ask a QUESTION  "Are you saying __________ ?"
  • give a SUGGESTION  "It would help the reader if you ___ ."

Guideline #1: Comments must be school appropriate. As digital citizens, you must recognize that any comment you leave is a public document that can be read by anyone (from teachers to administrators to parents) and not just by your classmates. Thus you must exercise maturity with what you write.

Guideline #2: Your comments must be specific enough to reveal that you have actually read the post upon which you are commenting and not just skimmed it. You should avoid any comments that are just simple compliments (“I really enjoyed reading your post on ____”). If you want to leave such a comment in addition to the required comments each week, that’s fine, but such comments will not be counted for credit.

Guideline #3: Comments need to be in complete sentences and should be thoughtful, substantial feedback. One word comments or incoherent fragments also will not be counted for credit. Two to three sentences in each comment would be a good estimate to guide you.

Guideline #4: Comments that have excessive mechanical errors in them will also not be counted for credit. While I do not expect error free writing, I do expect you to do the basic proofreading needed.

Guideline #5: You are required to complete three comments each week.

Guideline #6: You are welcome to comment on any blog post that is new to you; you are not limited to just the latest blog post a classmate has written.

Which blogging platform should I choose?

I've been using Kidblog for years. I find the management features so easy to use, and it only takes the students a few minutes to understand the publishing features. I love how the sidebar links to each student's posts. You can also choose the audience for each post: teacher only, class only, connected classes only, or the world. You can have unlimited class blogs for $29 a year. Here's a tutorial:

There are some newer platforms out there. One caught my attention because of its integrated audio recording and features for teachers leaving comments on student work.

We need to help our students develop traditional as well as digital literacy skills, and regularly writing on a classroom blog is a fantastic way to do both. What are you waiting for?

Padlet

Padlet is an even easier way to showcase student work. You can use it the same way you would a blog, but for a one-off, without the yearly commitment that a blog demands.

Padlet is also great for sharing links, videos and resources. Here are a couple I made for my students, feel free to share them with yours.