Over the last two years I have used student blogs mostly for publishing work and for some free writing. The task of typing was laborious and frustrating for many of my students, so many didn't have time to finish during the school day and only a handful of my students have internet access at home. I often encouraged them to go to the public library, but this solution didn't work for all students all of the time.
I found myself in an annoying cycle; my students were not great at typing > we would type to practice and publish our work > because they weren't good at typing, we would run out of time > they would be frustrated at the lack of time and not want to type > many didn't improve their typing abilities > blogging was difficult > by the end of the year my students were still not great at typing or blogging.
Here's the new plan for the upcoming school year:
- Each of the five 5th-grade classes will have a designated, weekly blogging hour.
- In the first couple of weeks, we will spend time learning about blogging and typing whatever comes to mind. The objective will be to practice typing.
- After students are comfortable with the kidblog.org interface and typing, we will work on publishing stories for a wide audience. We will practice things like commenting and sharing as well as some basics like conventions, paragraphing, and formatting.
- A couple of months into it, with our confidence built, we will open our class blog up to the world. I will use #comments4kids on Twitter and Skype for Education to connect us with other students and teachers.
- We will use the blog hour to read what others are writing as well as publish our own stories or research.
The goal is that the added time this year will allow us to develop the necessary skills and confidence before I simply ask them to type their stories in a 45-minute block.
The "blog hour" will not replace our writing instruction, but rather serve to supplement and enhance it. I want my students to leave being able to type and knowing how to share with wider audiences.
Any feedback from a more experienced teacher would be appreciated! As always, my Twitter name is @brpumphrey or you can leave a comment here. Thanks!
Thank you to Silvia Tolisano for her Langwitches blog, as I plan to reference her .pdf on blogging with students often throughout this process. Thanks!