Last year we introduced blogging in an attempt to better engage students in their learning. In early September, every grade 4, 5 and 6 student was set up with an account and away we went. Blogging, we thought, would provide one means to build many of the so called 21st century competencies being touted by the education ministry in our province. Kidblog seemed like the perfect platform as it was a safe and easy tool designed specifically for younger students.
At first, teachers were somewhat perplexed by how to use the blogs with their students. This paperless new platform challenged their very thinking, and left them questioning how it could possibly be used to meet important learner outcomes in the Program of Study. There was a great deal of conversation around the relevance of blogging and some even referred to it as “a waste of valuable instructional time.”
In spite of some reluctance, everyone endeavoured to give blogging a try and as the year got underway students were taught how to log in and apply basic etiquette while sharing their thoughts and ideas in an online environment. Although some incorporated blogging in a more meaningful way than others, everyone eventually became somewhat comfortable with the management of their class accounts. Even the reluctant adopters tolerated some blogging once they witnessed the high levels of student engagement.
Fast forward to this year where blogs have been set up for students in grades 1 through 6 and teachers have a much clearer understanding of how to plan, teach and assess student’s online work. In October we held an evening PD session and nearly every teacher attended, building capacity in our collective knowledge about student blogging. After spending last year learning about the blogs, they are now better equipped to work blogs into daily instruction. We’ve come a long way in a year and a half.
Below I’ve listed a few of the blogging activities I’ve witnessed at my school. I invite you to click on the links to see our student’s work.
1. Collaborate with other classes by completing a novel study on classics like Charlottes Web and The One and Only Ivan through the Global Read Aloud. Example #1 Example #2 Example #3
2. Debate the environmental impact of practices such as gas fracking, oil drilling and clear cutting by writing a position statement then comment on other posts by agreeing or disagreeing. Example #1 Example #2
3. Participate in cool challenges like the 100 Word Challenge by posting a creative piece based on a prompt. The entry must be exactly 100 words in length, will receive constructive comments, and may be selected for a weekly showcase. Example #1 Example #2
4. Introduce yourself to the world. Example #1 Example #2
5. Post partial pictures of interesting things around the school and ask others to comment by guessing what it is. Post the answer after a week or so. Example #1 Example #2
6. Write about important topics such as bullying and world peace and engage in an online conversation with peers. Example #1 Example #2 Example #3
7. Respond to teacher posts in different subject areas and justify your comment. Example #1 Example #2
8. Introduce yourself to the teachers at the Jr. High School you will attend next year. Example #1 Example #2
9. Write a post to the Minister of Education, sharing your thoughts on the future of schools. Example #1 Example #2
10. Write an inspirational post about a retiring staff member at your school. Example #1 Example #2
11. Stand up for human rights by writing a post protesting the atrocities committed by irresponsible leaders. Example #1 Example #2
A year and a half ago we took a chance and started blogging with our students. Today, I sure am glad we did.