I have been using Kidblog in my Spanish classes for a couple of years. Students are either asked to respond to a theme using the related chapter vocabulary and grammar, or write on one of the topics I suggest for them weekly. Students have grown to love using Kidblog as a way to improve their communication skills when writing their weekly blog.
When students began blogging, they were resistant to using it as a space to brainstorm ideas or pre-write for any other classes. I also found some students chose to have their posts visible to just me, the teacher, rather than their peers. While I understood sharing posts with a larger audience makes students feel vulnerable, I did want my students to experience writing for a larger, more authentic audience. I knew that giving posts a larger audience increases open communication, engagement, and encourages feedback. Additionally, students become more comfortable expressing themselves both in their writing and verbally.
Going beyond the class assignment
For many students, there was worry about not being able to write enough in their posts – the task of writing 8 or 10 sentences seemed like a lot to beginning Spanish II students. However, as the year progressed, the resistance faded away, and they began embracing the blogging experience. This year, I have noticed several students asking if they can write personal blogs, blogs outside of my class assignments. My response came easily – “Of course!” I watched students learn to love blogging for an audience, writing beyond the requirements, and pushing themselves to continue writing even more. These students were the same ones that were initially resistant to blogging. The cherry on top is that students are able to see their growth throughout the year (digital portfolios) and have become increasingly confident in their communication skills.
The Daily Recap
A few weeks ago, one student expressed that she was so excited to go home and share with her family what she had learned in school that day. How great! As we teachers know it is crucial for parents to understand what their children are learning, keeping the communication between home and school open. However, the student quickly added that it was difficult for her to remember everything she wanted to share, and her parents often zoned out mid-story.
I suggested that she use Kidblog to share her work with her parents. It would be a great way to to reflect on what she had learned, how the year was going, and share progress. I thought the blog could be the perfect medium for her to gather her ideas and could be something wonderful to share with her family. She agreed and began to write each day.
What started as simply making some lists with a few short comments, has evolved into more of a narrative. Using Kidblog as the “audience” has enabled this student to reflect on each school day, in a way that is comfortable and accessible to her at any time. Besides being able to write her ideas down, it provides a more creative space where she can add images, videos, audio, and Google Docs, representing each day’s work.
There are so many benefits of blogging and sometimes the greatest benefits become personal to each individual student. Over the course of the year, I have seen tremendous growth in my students’ writing style and comfort in communication. Personally, I have learned about the various ways that Kidblog can be used and the power of an authentic audience.