Pen pals have long been an iconic and treasured part of education. Now with advancement in technology and educators focusing on 21st century learning skills, student blogging is quickly taking the place of the traditional pen pal letter. Through student-blogging sites like Kidblog, students are able to connect with classes from all over the world, sharing ideas, and learning from one another. No longer is learning confined to the four walls of their classroom, or authentic audiences limited to the students within them. Students can share about the book they are reading with peers in Ireland, discuss science concepts with students in South Africa, and brainstorm global problems with classes in India.
My 4th grade students have been using Kidblog for the past year-and-a-half. Throughout last year, my students had global blogging partner classes from Ireland, Australia, and Ecuador. Each week one of the classes would be the “featured” class for the week. That class’ students would blog about activities they were doing in class or concepts they were learning. During that week, the other three classes would read and comment on the students’ posts. My students loved logging on and reading comments from peers spanning across three continents!
Kidblog makes it easy for classes to connect globally. If you find a class blog that you would like your class to follow and connect with, then you can make a request to follow from their class blog page. Once the connection has been made, students simply click on the link for the other class, which will appear on their dashboard, to read students’ posts and make comments. I have found classes to connect with through social media sites as well as my professional learning networks. Our three global partner classes all started with a connection through Skype. These relationships began on mystery Skype or through a global collaborative project, and we quickly decided we wanted to continue the learning among our classes.
Blogging is a great way to build student connections in a way that allows them to write, reflect, and respond. My students eyes were opened to the fact that peers halfway across the world were not so different from themselves. They found that kids in whom they have never met in person and who lived in places they’ve never been, still had the same hopes and dreams, interests, and worries. They discovered that problems we face here in Kansas are often the same in Australia, Ecuador, and Ireland; that they are global problems, and that if we communicate and work together, we can find solutions to those problems and help instill hope among kids all across the world.
My job as an educator is not only to teach my students how to read and multiply and divide, but also to expose them to people and issues outside of our hometown. Students need to interact with people from other cultures, learn new customs, and develop empathy. We need to be creating global citizens in a global classroom. Blogging is one dynamic means to that end. Kidblog gives students a global voice that helps them see themselves as global citizens, and to understand that together there is no problem that we can’t solve.