Blogging is everywhere these days and it seems like every time I turn around, someone else is starting a new blog, either for themselves or with their students. Blogging gives students the opportunity to start conversations with a truly global audience, and for that reason, teachers should be providing their students opportunities to blog either on a topic of their choosing or as part of a class assignment.
I’ve used a few different platforms for blogging. Without naming them, each had limitations that I found frustrating. Most were way too complicated for students to use, which is why I ended up abandoning each of my initial tries with blogging. That is, until I found Kidblog.
One thing I like about Kidblog is how easy it is for students to log in. A student doesn’t need a personal email address to have a blog. First a student finds the teacher’s class by typing in the teacher’s email address. They choose their class, and a drop-down menu of student names (pre-populated by the teacher) is provided. Students put in their password, which can also be created by the teacher, and they can immediately begin blogging— the first thing that opens is a blank post. Navigation icons, which are located on the left side of the page, are large enough for students to see, and they can easily determine what each icon means.
As with most blogs, Students can add images into the post by taking a photo from within the app or by using a photo in the camera roll. Video can be added in the same manner.
Another bonus with Kidblog is the privacy features. Teachers have a few different options for privacy. Posts may only be public to those who are logged in, meaning only the people in that particular class can see posts and comments. A looser option is that the teacher allows the public to read the blog posts and comments by the students, but the general public is unable to comment on the blog. The least private option is to allow commenting by the public, but comments can remain moderated by the teacher.
Whenever students are blogging, it’s a good idea for the teacher to moderate the comments that are being posted. Some blogs allow the students to determine whether a comment is posted. I prefer to be in charge of that myself, especially at the beginning of the year when students are still learning how to make proper blog comments. I always stress to the students how important it is to use academic and appropriate language and to check comments for punctuation and spelling. I also have them use the Blog Commenting Starters to help focus their thoughts so that they are continuing the conversation in a meaningful way.
Common Core Connection
Blogging is a natural way to bring the Common Core and technology together in the classroom. Depending on the assignment, students can write blog posts for authentic audiences to meet the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing. Also dependent upon the assignment, students can read and respond to others’ blogs, and this helps students achieve the following College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading:
- Craft and Structure Standard 4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
- Craft and Structure Standard 5: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g. a section, chapter, scene or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
- Craft and Structure Standard 6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Blogging also helps students hone communication skills. In my experience, students are more thoughtful about what they are writing when they know it will be on the Internet, and they spend more time revising their work, therefore practicing their higher-order thinking skills. I have them revise their posts with a critical eye, asking themselves whether they have made their point clearly, whether the post is worthy of a conversation, and whether this is a piece they would want to read and discuss.
What Do You Think?
How do you see blogging helping your students meet the Common Core State Standards? How do you use blogging in your classroom?