After being introduced to blogging in graduate school, Douglas Meckley integrated Kidblog into his sixth grade class. He has since found a way to implement blogging into all content areas.
What motivated you to start blogging with your students?
I became intrigued by the possibilities of blogging when I encountered it during a graduate class I was taking. The greatest attraction to me was the possibility of introducing purposeful writing across a variety of content areas.
What has been the biggest surprise to you throughout your classroom blogging journey?
The greatest surprise to me is the level of enthusiasm most students display for blogging once we really get into the process. While there are always a few students who don’t get too into blogging, many of them go way above and beyond the expectations. When I give students a choice of activities to work on, the overwhelming majority prefer to work on their blogs. It actually gets to the point where I have to limit the amount of time some students can work on them in order to make sure that are getting other things finished too.
Do you have a favorite blogging ‘moment’?
It’s not a single moment, but my favorite thing about blogging has been the opportunity to learn more about my students. As teachers we don’t always have the time and ability to get to know a lot about our students outside of the classroom. Many of the things students choose to write about help me to gain and understanding of aspects of their lives I never would have learned about from our normal interactions in class. Essentially, I would say that blogging helps me to see my students as people rather than just as pupils.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with blogging in the classroom and how did you overcome this obstacle?
The greatest challenge I have faced in blogging is finding a meaningful way to incorporate blogging in a variety of content areas. Allowing students to blog about topics of interest to them as part of enriching their instruction in the English Language Arts has been a relatively simple matter. Making blogging a valuable part of math, social studies, and science has been much more challenging. I searched for ideas on the internet, but failed to find anything I feel provides a good solution. In fact, finding any good resources and guidance about blogging has been a struggle. I kept running into the same problems when I would try to assign a blog post in one of these areas. First, the process of having each student create a post would take longer than our curriculum allows for. Secondly, most of the posts tended to be very repetitive. While many students developed important skills in writing blogs, I don’t feel like we are getting enough educational return on the time we devote to these assignments. However, I just tried something this spring in social studies I really like. Maybe this holds the key to solving this problem if I can figure out how to generalize this strategy in the other content areas. While we were studying the World Wars, I assigned the students to read a variety of articles on the internet linked from my website relating to the targeting of civilians during the wars. These sites explored reasons for and against targeting civilians. Then I created a post about this topic and required each student to write a comment explaining their opinion. When everyone finished, I instructed each student to respond to a minimum of three comments written by their peers. Finally, everyone was asked to write a response to a comment another student wrote about their initial comment. This process was significantly faster and more valuable.
What do your students love most about Kidblog?
My students seem to enjoy the opportunity to write for an authentic audience and to participate in discussions about their ideas through commenting.
What are some of your goals and aspirations as you continue to blog with your classes year-over-year?
In the future I would like to find a way to involve the families of our students in the blogging process. While I have created a blog for this and a process for it, I haven’t found a way to get families to participate. I know that many people find writing a bit daunting and more are unsure about using technology in a new way, but there has to be a way to generate more interest, even in our already busy lives. I feel that getting families involved would help us to take our blogging to a whole new level.