Saturday, December 7, 2013

Student Blogs - The How and The Why

After sharing student blogging with several colleagues this week, I realized that many students are still not blogging.  Blogging has made its way into my classroom and has changed the way that my students write.  I have seen struggling writers sit and blog for 20 minutes without coming up for air.  I have heard students discuss their blog posts with excitement and anticipation.  My students actually ask to blog each day and they are almost giddy when I respond with a fun prompt to begin our class.

There are many reasons that I allow students in my class to create blogs.  I believe that blogging is a writing skill that needs to be addressed in the classroom.  Blogging is a great way for students to reflect and share experiences with an authentic audience.  My students see blogging as meaningful and engaging.  Class blogs create a sense of community in the classroom that is refreshing.

Before we begin blogging, I like to show my students examples of other student blogs and blogs written by successful adults as well.  This always brings authenticity and purpose to our classroom blogging and students understand why we are doing this.  We discuss the benefits and negative aspects of blogging.  I also think it is very important to discuss digital citizenship before students begin blogging.  

Blogging for my students is a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings with an audience.  They are given permission to share their writing and even comment on other student blogs.  Commenting on other blogs brings a whole new concept to the table.  Students must think about their comments and determine whether or not they are meaningful.  While I sometimes allow the "great post" or "nice job" comment, I want students to work toward making comments that encourage conversation and thought about the blog post that they have read.  As my elementary students are just learning to blog, this is a work in progress but we are getting there.

Just as students are able to comment on each other's blogs, I am able to comment as well.  I am able to see their writing progress by comparing earlier posts to more recent ones.   I can read their posts at any time and offer my guidance or assistance as they work on their writing.  This is invaluable to me as a teacher as I can communicate a genuine response that the students appreciate.

For those that are just beginning to use blogs in their classroom, there are so many ways to get started. In my classroom, we use KidBlog.  This is a great tool for beginning bloggers because it is very easy to use.  I also love that students can set their blogs to public or private.  This means that if they do not want to share with other students in our class, they can choose private and the post is only seen by the teacher and the student.  This gives us the ability to use KidBlog as a digital portfolio sharing work that is visible to others as well as work that is private.  There are many other blogging websites such as BloggerWordpress, and Edublogs. Check them out and decide which will work best for your classroom.

As we first started to blog, I simply gave my students writing prompts that were fun and exciting.  These are some great examples that I found at  I then asked them to get on KidBlog and write their response.  If you haven't seen these writing prompts, you should really check them out. There are tons of them and the students absolutely love them!

John Spencer has created what is possibly my favorite prompt ever.This is writing prompt #703… but it’s been reworked based on some excellent feedback… feedback about simplifying the wording of things, which I’ll try to incorporate more often. If anyone else has specific prompts that they think need to be reworded or simplified, please let me know. I really appreciate the feedback. Sometimes I forget what Milton Glaser said: “Just enough is more.”

As my students have become bloggers, I have been able to give them a little more freedom with their writing. They are beginning to see that blogging allows them to express themselves.  This encourages student creativity, transparency, and self-awareness.  These are things that are not easy to develop and yet blogging, when used correctly, seems to make it automatic.

We are preparing to begin our innovation projects very soon.  You can read more about this in my previous post (Innovations Class...And So It Begins).  Students will then begin to move into blogging about their progress and will share their blogs with a larger audience.  

While blogging in class is still fairly new to me, it has already had a huge impact on my students and their feelings about writing.  If you would like to read more about student blogging, I would encourage you to visit the following websites:

Blogging is the New Persuasive Essay

How Blogging, Texting, and Twitter Can Help Students Learn

Teaching With Blogs

While I know blogging is old news to many, I also know that several teachers just don't know where to start. I hope that this post has encouraged you to try blogging in your classroom.  You will be glad that you did!   


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