Blogging is a form of writing and for young writers, AKA our students, it can be an exciting venue to express their thoughts and complete assignments!
I experimented with student blogging at the end of last year in June. Yes, it was the last month of school and I went ahead with the plan. I’m so glad I did because in that short time I was able to see how excited students got with blogging. That experience is what made me want to start this year off with student blogging. It is my hope that this writing will continue throughout the year and be as exciting the whole year through.
My students and I began a week or so ago with paper blogs. This is definitely the way to go! It is the perfect way to get students to understand what blogging is (including blogging vocabulary and design) while still keeping to something they are familiar with (writing and designing on paper.) In this way, when students are ready to go online, they are just that – ready. It’s not all new, all at once. Instead, they’ve tried it before and they can apply what they’ve learned to an online format. For a complete run down of how I conduct activities, please visit Making Paper Blogs to Prepare for the Online Experience.
During this experience, students write a short, high interest post. The topic I use is, “Write about your favorite food or drink.” Because they know they are writing for their own blog, they get started very quickly on their white lined paper. Once they check their work and I glance over it, they write a final copy and start working on their blog. I differentiate their blog from their post by stating that their blog is the colored construction paper and their post is the white lined paper they will glue onto the blog. (Many people mix up these two terms.)
Once everyone has their posts glued onto their blogs, it’s time to start commenting. I address the process of this in the above linked post. Here though, I’d like to emphasize how EXCITED the students get to write great comments. I make the stipulation that every post in our class should get at least two (sticky note) comments on it, but I don’t think that is even necessary. After starting students on writing their comments, there was NO stopping them! The students read paper posts and wrote great paper comments without a sound for nearly 30 minutes. (And you need to know that this year’s class is usually a chatty one. )
So, where do we go from here? I am happy to say that this year the tech teacher and I are collaborating on this and now that the students are done creating paper blogs, she is going to get them set up on Kidblog online. It will be great for the students to go to her with a knowledge base of vocabulary, skills and interest. In addition, they will be prepared with the content of their first online post (which will be the same on as their paper blog.) From there, we will work together on creating engaging writing assignments that will connect to our curriculum.
I am excited to see where this goes this year and to report it out to you.
So, what’s the moral of this post? Do some student blogging! Go with paper blogs first, and then go for it online! You will be amazed at how excited your students are about writing.
Do YOU do student blogging? Please share. I know of so many teachers who do so and have some great suggestions. As I embark on using student blogs all year long, I will be looking for ideas and activities to help things continue so that my students don’t lose that excitement for writing!