Year 5 and 6 teacher, Mary Brown, has been blogging in her New Zealand classroom for four years. Her students’ confidence in their writing has increased and they have even started setting and completing their own blogging challenges.
What motivated you to start blogging with your students?
Blogging looked like a highly exciting way to motivate students to write, and in their own time at home as well, if they wished. They would have an authentic audience that would give them feed back. They would have a lot of choice as far as what they wrote, and viewing each others’ texts would provide further choice of topic. I felt very safe using it, because everything is moderated by me, making this an idea platform for children to learn some social media safety rules.
What has been the biggest surprise to you throughout your classroom blogging journey?
I set writing challenges every so often for the students to complete on our blog, but each class has spontaneously copied that idea and the students regularly set their own challenges for each other. I have never made it compulsory to write on our blog, yet by simply providing time in class, I usually get 100% participation, or very close to that.
Do you have a favorite blogging ‘moment’?
A father of a student had to work overseas for some months, and he was regularly reading and writing on his son’s blog. Each morning, I would see if he had left a comment for his son, and when I let the child know, the look on his face was wonderful. Also, grandparents overseas have loved commenting on their grandchildren’s posts.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with blogging in the classroom and how did you overcome this obstacle?
When I started using kidblog, it was free. When a change was introduced, this was expensive when converted to NZ dollars. I currently have a classroom budget that I take this fee out of. Other blogs that I tried, simply were not as good, or failed to meet my needs and those of the students that trialed them.
What is your favorite Kidblog feature?
I like being able to have total control over what is able to be viewed by the students, and I am able to view their drafts if I wish. I moderate everything, even parent comments. The children are kept very safe on the kidblog site.
What do your students love most about Kidblog?
They enjoy many things, such as having their own passwords, using the blog at home, changing their avatar, adding their own photos, but mostly they enjoy receiving comments from readers. This is highly motivating for them.
What are some of your goals and aspirations as you continue to blog with your classes year-over-year?
I want to continue providing blog challenges that get the students really thinking and sharing their views on deeper issues with each other. Often these tie in with our class shared read aloud.
Check out Mary’s Kidblog classroom: Mrs. B’s Class 2017