If you aren't blogging with your students, you're
missing one of the most effective tools available
for improving student literacy and math.
are easy to use, fun for students, encourage creativity and problem-solving, allow for
reflection and feedback, enable publishing and
sharing of work, and fulfill many of the
Common Core State Standards you might be
struggling to complete.
Aside from math and
literacy, the Common Core State Standards wants students to become accomplished in a variety of intangible skills that promote learning and college and career readiness. Look at these 13 benefits of blogging and how they align with the Common Core:
Provide and get feedback. Building a community via comments is an integral part of blogging. If you didn't want feedback, you'd publish a white paper or submit work the old-fashioned, hard copy way. When students publish their ideas in blogs, other students, teachers and parents can provide feedback, join the conversation, and learn from the student.
Write-edit-review-rewrite. Teachers don't expect students to get it right the first time. Part of the writing process is revising, editing, rewriting. This is easy with blogs. Students publish a topic, collect comments, incorporate these ideas into their own thinking, then edit their post.
Publish. The idea that student work is created for a grade then stuffed away in a corner of their closet is disappearing. Current educators want students to publish their work in a way that allows everyone to benefit from the student's knowledge and work. There are many ways to do that -- blogs are one of the easiest.
Share. Just like publishing, students no longer create for a grade; they share with others. Blogs allow for sharing writing, but also artwork, photography, music, multimedia projects, and pretty much anything the student can create.
Collaborate. Blogs can easily be collaborative. Student groups can publish articles, comment on others, edit and rewrite. They can work together on one blog to cover a wider variety of topics and/or make its design attractive, appealing and enticing to readers.
Keyboarding. Blogs are small doses of typing -- 300-500 words, a few dozen for comments. This is an authentic opportunity to practice the keyboarding skills students will need to meet the Common Core State Standards in 4th grade and up.
Demonstrate independence. Blogs are about creativity. No two are alike. They offer lots of options for design and formatting so students can tweak it to their preference. Because they are open 24/7, students can do blog work when it suits them, not in the confines of a 50-minute class.
Build strong content knowledge. Blog posts can be drafted as the student collects information, posted when the student is ready. Links can be included to provide evidence of student statements, as well as linkbacks for reference and deeper reading for interested students.
Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. Students can create their work in whatever digital tool fits the audience, task, purpose they are focused on, then embed it into their blog post. This is possible even in a simplified blogging platform like KidBlog. Most online tools (Voki, Wordle, Tagxedo) provide the html code that can be easily placed in the blog post. Then, the student can focus on presenting their ideas as music, art, photos, text, an infographic, a word cloud -- whatever works for their purposes.
Comprehend as well as critique. Student bloggers are expected to critique the posts of others by thoroughly reading the post and commenting based on evidence. If the reader doesn't understand, they ask questions in the comments. This insures that when they evaluate the post, they have all the information required to reach a conclusion.
Value evidence. Blogs make it easy to provide all the necessary evidence to support a point of view. Students can link back to sources to provide credit, and link to experts to provide credibility for statements. In fact, in the blogosphere, good bloggers are expected to do this as a means of building credibility for opinions they write
Use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Certainly blogs are great for writing, but they're also excellent as digital portfolios to display student work developed in a variety of places. Students pick the technology that fits what they're expected to accomplish in a class, then publish it to the blog. Have you seen the movies students put together on a topic? Some are amazing.
Understand other perspectives and cultures. Blogs are published. Even private blogs are accessed by many more people than possible with a handwritten paper. Students write knowing that people of all cultures and perspectives will read their material, knowing they can add comments that share their beliefs. This encourages students to develop the habit of thinking about perspective as they write.
Don't try all of this at once. Spiral into it, starting in 2nd or 3rd grade. Let their blogging grow with their intellectual skills.
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Which Blogging Platform?
There are a lot of options out there, but the most popular for younger students (grade 2-5) are Edublogs and Kidblogs. These are easy to keep private, offer the basic tools students will want for posting, encourage comments and feedback, and allow you as teacher to supervise everything before it goes live.
Once students get into middle and high school, introduce a fully featured platform like WordPress or Blogger.
Review Digital Citizenship
Start student blogging with a discussion on digital citizenship. Include topics like privacy, cyberbullying, perspective-taking, and digital law. Ask students their thoughts on these and build from there. I have lots of resources for these conversations on my digital citizenship page. Most are free.
Basics of Posts
Blogs used to be too cutting-edge for pedestrian rules like grammar and spelling. That's not true anymore. Before students write their first post, remind them:
Make content pithy.
Use correct spelling and grammar.
Appeal to readers with content and design.
Interact with readers via questions in the blog and answering comments.
Avoid mistakes, redundancies, awkward flow by proofreading.
Blogs are everything you want in a school activity – they are student-centered, independent, supportive of problem solving and creative thinking, transferable to many classes and home activities. If you have questions, add them to the comments. I'll see if I can help.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, a columnist for Examiner.com, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.