At first I thought it would be a good thing to do during computer center in Daily 5 (some of my students have already finished all the books in raz-kids) but I soon realized I wanted to use it for more. I quickly introduced it to my students in the computer lab and then gave them 20 minutes to write 3 sentences about themself and post it (since we don't get too much practice with typing I thought 3 sentences would keep them plenty busy). I was planning on having to run from computer to computer to trouble shoot, but the room was actually dead silent. About five minutes into the assignment I decided to walk around and see what the students were writing. To my suprise half of them had already posted and taught themselves how to change color, font, text, and add smiley faces. By the time I circled back around to my computer I noticed I had over 20 comments to approve. I was shocked the kids were able to grasp blogging so quickly. At the end of our time in the lab I had over 60 comments to approve and some students had written 2 or 3 posts. I went home after this 20 minute lesson and logged on to write a post for my students. It was then that I noticed some of my students had found out how to access our log-in page from the school's website (you have to click through 4 different websites/links) and were blogging and commenting from home! :)
Since they caught on so fast I realized I had to utilize their blog for something more substantial. I decided that every week I would post an assignment that they could complete during their computer time (they each get at least 20 minutes twice a week during Daily 5). The students know that they are not allowed to write any other posts or read their friend's blogs until they have completed their assignment. This week their assignment was to write two paragraphs about their favorite book; giving a summary and telling why they like it. The students who have already finished did a phenomenal job! In my opinion, it's better than what I would have gotten if they would have written it on paper.
I introduced some rules before we started blogging, but quickly after I realized that I needed to add some more. Here is what we came up with:
1. NO last names, phone numbers, or addresses
2. You cannot write mean things about other students or name mean characters after other students
3. You cannot leave mean comments (I had to clarify that writing a mean comment and then putting "lol" after it does not make it okay)
4. Our blog is NOT facebook or texting (some of my students were writing posts that just said "what's up")
5. You cannot publish a post that is not AT LEAST 5 healthy sentences (we talked about how we blog to become better writers)
And since I love lists, here are the reasons why I will continue to give my students ample oppurtunity to blog:
1. They LOVE it!
2. Encouragement: They leave each other such motivating comments about things that I wouldn't think to say. You can see how much it makes their day to read their friend's comments on something they wrote.
3. Modeling: I complete every assignment with them so they not only get to read my model of the activity but they get to read peer work that is more advanced or shows a different style of writing.
4. Community: All of my students get along for the most part, but I typically have groups of students who hang out all the time. Since the students have been reading everyone's blog and finding out more about them, I have had less arguments and seen more opposites choosing to work with each other. I have also noticed that one of my less popular students has become almost famous in our classroom due to her hilarious stories. It is good to see students starting to value her for her personality and want to get to know her.
5. Parents: Parents are able to read their child's writing and see how other students their age write. This is extremely helpful since sometimes parents of oldest or only children don't really know how their child fares against other students their age. (I've seen parents not believe teachers when they are told their child is behind or low).
6. I enjoy reading it as much as they enjoy writing it! The students also like to read my posts. They think it's funny that I am doing the assignments with them....maybe I will let them grade me?
Does anyone else use blogging in their classroom? I would love to hear how you make it work and what you use it for. All ideas, comments, and questions are welcome.
(Comments from another post)