Engaging Student Writers With Blogging

By Megan Power on February 21, 2011

Which is more motivating to you? Just writing for your teacher? Or, writing for readers all around the world? Which piece of writing would you spend more time and energy on? More than likely, your students feel the same.

Tap into students’ digital world by bringing blogging into your classroom. Read on to get examples of how seamlessly blogging can be integrated into your curriculum. Also, find out how adding a worldwide audience automatically increases students’ engagement in their writing.

 

Award graphic courtesy of adrianbruce.com.

 

Blogs have become increasing popular over the last few years. (See Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2010 report for more on this.) People look to blogs to read about a topic of interest, to learn something new, and to hear about others’ lives. One of the reasons for blogging's rapid rise in popularity is how easy blogs make it to publish writing and personal views, and to share ideas with a worldwide audience. Blogging is done by people of all ages and interests, including journalists, professionals, politicians, and even kindergartners!

Take a look at this video to find out more about blogging:

After learning more about blogging and becoming a teacher blogger on Scholastic.com last year, I started to think about how this cutting-edge tool could be used in my kindergarten classroom. That is when I began writing a class blog with my students at the end of each day. It became a wonderful parent communication tool created with the students as a modeled interactive writing lesson. They absolutely loved publishing on the Internet, and many parents read it daily. I knew when I first began that this tool had a lot of potential in the classroom.  

Over the summer I searched for a new blogging platform that more easily allowed reader comments and would give my students their own mini blog where they could publish their own writing. I was thrilled to find Landmark's Class Blogmeister and Kidblog. Because I teach kindergarten, we are using the Kidblog site this year. In January we started blogging as a class each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Students' families comment often and love this communication tool. Read our class blog! My students would love to get a comment from you.

Blog 

My students were ecstatic when I gave them publishing access to our class blog a few weeks ago. Now they each have a user name and password so they can write their own posts on our blog in addition to commenting on their friends' posts. The excitement and the eagerness to write, and to write well, has been a blessing to watch.

So now that you better know what blogs are and you have seen the beginning of my kindergarten class's blog, how can you use blogging with your students without its becoming one more thing to do?

Ideas for Blogging With Students

  • Online journal writing.
  • Reflective learning journals.
  • Publish students' writing for feedback.
  • Share and gather information on topics being studied.
  • Post summaries or responses to literature.

Take a look at this blogging star! He is known as the "Kidblogger," and since age 13 he has already made a ton of money blogging!

Benefits of Blogging

  • Blogging is a purposeful way to get students motivated about writing. Because their writing gets published and has a worldwide authentic audience to read and make comments, students have more buy in and more desire to produce quality work.
  • Increased collaboration and relationships are benefits to blogging. Through comments and linking from blog to blog, students collaborate with and assist each other as they strive to share their messages.
  • Students learn responsibility and accountability with blogging. They have an audience waiting for weekly or daily posts, and the writer needs to be responsible for delivering the content on time.
  • Blogging gives students "voice." Even the shyest of kids will get their voices heard through writing.
  • Increased connection and communication with friends, relatives, and readers around the world.
  • Global citizenship skills.

Benefits to Blogging Platforms Such as Kidblog and Class Blogmeister

  • Two huge benefits of these platforms are student accounts that don't require email addresses and a teacher dashboard. The teacher dashboard makes it simple for teachers to read and manage all of their students' writing, whether they are finished or not, from any computer with an Internet connection. 
  • Another must-have feature is a setting that allows the teacher to approve posts and/or comments before they get published. This is especially important as students get older and need to edit and revise their writing before it goes public. The ability to approve comments helps teachers keep inappropriate topics or words off their blog.

I hope this post gives you a few ideas of how you can start blogging with your students. If you are blogging already, please comment below with a link to your class blog so we can get some more examples of blogs in education!

And finally, add blogging awards to your students' posts. Take a look at these free animated awards from Adrian Bruce.

Comments

I appreciate the great ideas on blogging. As a teacher who has been guilty of avoiding the class blog, I'm now more convinced than ever that I'm cheating my students and myself if I continue to hold back. We all need to share-share-share and blogging is the perfect avenue for us!

Mlofi, I love that you are looking into blogging with your kindergarteners. Kidblog is a great site that gives even our youngest students voice and the opportunity to share it with the world. Thanks for reading. Smiles, Megan

Thank you so much for sharing. As a beginning Kindergarten teacher, I thought that blogging at this level would be too dificult. I was thrilled to learn of Kidblog. What a great way to strengthen reading and writing skills, and at the same time enhance their computer skills. I will definitely look into bringing this into my classroom.

April, That is wonderful! My students have just been loving our blog. I love getting my email messages after school saying a students has written a post or commented! What a motivating way to get students to write! Smiles, Megan

Joy, Thank you so much for your kind words. It is fun to write about all of these things and share them with other teachers. I'm glad you are going to try letting your students blog more. It is so exciting for them! Smiles, Megan

I just incorporated a class blog in my kindergarten class. I had each student write a comment about the post today. They are super excited about the blog.

I am just loving your blog!!! You have taught me so much in just the last several posts!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I am so excited to start blogging with my kids. I blog for my class and sometimes have the kids write a post or two...but your way sounds much better and way more engaging for the kids!!! Thank you again for sharing!!

Kathy, Thanks for your comment and thoughts. Publishing online is such a motivating way to get students to want to write. They see a purpose and an authentic audience for their writing which usually results in better writing. As you mentioned many teachers are put off by the technology term of blogging. Maybe we can call them "interactive online journals". That is what blogging is. What do you think? Smiles, Megan

You know Megan--I thought this was a great post to encourage writing. I am wondering about the actual term "Blog". We have had a number of discussions about how we know that the idea of publishing online is so motivating to encourage kids to write--but the term blog seems to put teachers off. What do you think about this? Is there another way to position "Blog"?

Thanks Linda, The kids love to blog and comment on each other's blogs. It is really motivating for them as writers and readers! I love that I get students blogging over breaks and after school without it being assigned! Smiles, Megan

What a great video you found to highlight key ideas about blogging. I love how you incorporate blogging into your classroom and really enjoyed the comments your students posted on each other's blogs during our winter break to stay in touch with each other. Real world writing for kindergartners at its best!

Dawn, Wow! Thanks for your kind words and featuring our blog on your blog! I am looking forward to checking out your blog. Smiles, Megan

Josh, Thanks for your comment. Blogging with students is very fun and they learn so much about writing. It is very easy for us as teachers to forget about a great tool. I am excited you are going to go back and get your students blogging again! Smiles, Megan

Megan, I want to share how impressed I was with your post on engaging student writers with blogging. This is a fabulous idea! I love the motivation a blog gives to a student to write their thoughts and share it with the world, especially their world of friends and family. I am always on the lookout for such fabulous ideas for getting kids loving the journaling idea. This one certainly qualifies.

I have chosen your post, Engaging Student Writers with Blogging, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 2/22/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring.

You're welcome to follow my @JournalChat account on Twitter for all things journaling. :)

Thanks again for sharing your experience as a teacher with interesting students in writing and journaling by keeping a blog. :)

Be refreshed, Dawn Herring JournalWriter Freelance @JournalChat on Twitter for all things journaling

My kids LOVE to blog on KidBlogs!! We haven't done much blogging in recent weeks (maybe even months), but it's time to start back up again.

If you are on Twitter, you can use the #Comments4Kids hashtag and network with other teachers who blog in their classrooms. Several have commented on my class's blogs.

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