Monday, May 28, 2012

For the Love of Blogging

Written by a shy student who never raised her hand
in class.  Only I knew how brilliant she was...
until she started blogging.
In the fall of 2011, I introduced my students to blogging for the first time.  It has enabled my writers to discover their voice and uncover a true love of writing. One student wrote, “You gave us wings and taught us to fly, letting us find out for ourselves that the sky really is the limit.”

A blog may be a reflection at the end of a unit of study, a theme piece that introduces an upcoming lesson, or a poetry vlog that feature their own poems in a movie slideshow with music. In addition, many students are motivated to write topics dear to their heart like the one titled “Computers, Konglish, and My American Dream,” in which the writer recounts a story of when she taught her immigrant grandmother how to use the Internet. During her piece, she comes to an epiphany about her heritage and her relationship with her grandmother. Another student wrote a review on the show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and comes to the conclusion that the show “is a refreshing new take on the original concept.”

Our blog readers hailed from many parts of the world. My students regularly look forward to reading comments left for them by our visitors, and they swell with pride at all the praise they have received. As for me, I am as excited as my students. I am awed by how reflective, mature, and intellectual their posts have become.

I believe one of the most important outcomes from blogging is that my students have found a creative outlet where they could express themselves, challenge their writing skills, and build their self-esteem. It is my hope that they will continue to blog even after they leave my classroom.

I use as our blogging platform because it is very safe and secure for students. It gives teachers as much administrative control as they wish. Teachers can decide if their students' posts and/or comments need to be approval before they are published. Alternatively, teachers can configure all posts and comments to publish without being moderated. This is a feature that many parents appreciate since some are concerned about their child's privacy and safety. Setting up a class is also a breeze. Students can easily enroll by using a code or teachers can create student accounts themselves.

My students blog regularly throughout the year. Their blogs feature a variety of topics, some of which are assigned by me and some of which are chosen by the student. Students submit their blogs for credit via a Google Form. I find this to be the easiest and most efficient way to read their work. The key is for students to copy and paste their exact post into a Google Form. (See image on the right.) They submit five posts at a time. This way, I can read all of the posts in one place, on a Google Spreadsheet. (If you're feeling geeky, you can use data validation to require a minimum word count on blog posts, too.)

To drive readership to your students' blogs, consider joining, soliciting other teachers with the Twitter hashtag #comments4kids, #kidblog, or reaching out to your PLN on social media.

If you are interested in forming a blogging partnership with me, please contact me.