By Jeff Bales
With the huge shift to implementing Common Core in my classroom, I found myself not giving students enough opportunities to write and express themselves thoughtfully. That’s when I came across the idea of using blogging with my fourth grade students.
On the very first week of school, I explained that their writing was going to be public to the world. No more writing in isolation – it would be inclusive and collaborative. Lesson by lesson, I modeled very clearly how to blog and made sure the students knew the exact expectations. I made certain to explain that each post could accomplish many objectives:
- Provide a place to showcase and present student work
- Address several reading and writing Common Core standards
- Be structured thoughtfully to eliminate confusion
- Give students the opportunity to write for a variety of purposes
- Hold students accountable while diminishing their anxiety
How to Start Off the Year Using Classroom Blogging
For the first several blogs, I have students post about the books that they are currently reading. In an attempt to expose them to a variety of literature, I assign them a different genre each month. The book that they choose must be a novel that is at least 100 pages and falls into the specified genre. Then, students write a short summary of the book, along with a review of exactly what they think of the book and why. Once posted, they are required to read each other’s blogs and make constructive comments.
Since I have started combining reading and Kidblog in this way, students are extremely motivated to read and respond to their reading in ways I have never seen before. Not only are they getting the opportunity to see great writing, they are also receiving instant reviews of books that they may want to then read. When a student writes about how much they liked a book and why, other students are more willing to take that recommendation than if it came from me.
Benefits of Classroom Blogging
First and foremost, blogging has transformed the writing in my classroom. My students’ writing abilities have dramatically improved, and they are able to produce high quality work that is engaging and insightful. As a teacher who has taught for many years, student writing often used to make me want to pull my hair out. I found students were careless with their work with too many errors to count. Knowing that they have a huge audience and are being held accountable, their posts are generally free of common mistakes and grammar issues. Since they are fourth graders, not every post is going to be perfect. The great benefit of blogging is that the students will help each other find errors and address them in a comment. Often, it only takes only that one comment and the errors are cleaned up.
I truly feel that Kidblog can be adapted and used in a variety of ways. In future posts, I will share other ways that you can incorporate blogging into your daily routine. Encouraging students to blog can certainly help them make connections between academics and the real world.
Try blogging today; see how your students will light up.
Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger via flickr cc