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February 21, 2011 Engaging Student Writers With Blogging By Megan Power
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    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.

    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.

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Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2