Kindergarten BlogsSometimes we used our blogs as weekend journals. One of my kiddos decided to write about the addition of bunk beds to her bed room.
Another time I provided the students with the prompt: write about a time you got hurt. This student went above and beyond and wrote and wrote and wrote. I had to stop her at the end of our scheduled computer time!
At the end of the year, we used our blogs to reflect on our year together. This student did a beautiful job talking about the people who impacted her and what she had learned during the year.
I think, more than anything, blogging last year helped my students find a love for writing and communicating. They not only enjoyed writing their own entries, but they LOVED responding to their friends. This process opened up all kinds of opportunities to talk about digital citizenship. We talked about how we needed to be kind in our responses and we needed to respond in ways that made sense. There were many teachable moments, like the time one of my kiddos responded with "Hi" on every person's blog, and we used those to stretch our thinking and ability to come up with good responses. We talked about reading for understanding and many different reading strategies in this process too. My kiddos begged for blogging days, and I was more than happy to oblige.
I also enjoyed the fact that I was able to give them quick responses to their writing. With our traditional weekend journals (physical notebooks), I never responded to them. It simply took too much time to go through each one, find the page they chose to write on that day, and hand-write a thoughtful response. With blogs, I could quickly write back to my kiddos with the responses they deserved. I didn't have to carry any bulky notebooks home, and it took me just a few minutes of my time to get through them. They were so excited to see what I had written.
Another really cool thing was that I blogged too! I tried to have a blog entry ready for each of the prompts I presented the kiddos with. This was a great way for them to get to know me. I shared pictures and stories about my family, I talked about my niece's birth, and I wrote about my passions and interests. My students loved learning about me. This was also a great way for me to model good writing. I used full sentences with spaces between the words and punctuation at the end, and I talked about those things as we looked at the entries. It amazed me to see how quickly my students picked up on these aspects of writing and began to include them in their own writing.
First Grade Blogging
I created my students' blogs for this year this morning, and I cannot wait to see where they take us. In planning for this year, I want to continue in a similar pattern but I am hoping to add a few opportunities for my students. Last year, my students blogs were completely private; only classmates could view them. This year, I'd like to open up a way for students to be able to connect with students in other places through their blogs.
One way I hope to do this is through a process called Quadblogging. (You can learn more about it here.) In this process, four classrooms from all over work together to connect their blogs. Each week, one class takes on the challenge of blogging while the other three classrooms read and respond. This continues for four weeks which gives each classroom a chance to blog and to practice writing great comments. While I loved having the students read their own blogs, I feel opening them up to the world and having a greater audience will be even more motivating for them. My goal in all of this is to help them become better writers, so motivation is absolutely key.
Quadblogging will be a big project, and I am excited about its possibilities; however, I'd like to do a few simpler things as well. One of which is to simply make connections with other Kidblog users. I have already made contact with another teacher in a different state about making this reality. Once again, my goal is to widen my students' audiences. I want them to have an authentic reason to write; these connections will give them this reason. I know there are teachers in my school who are blogging with their students as well. Hopefully, we can connect at some point this year.
There is a lot I need to get done before I can make this happen. I need to be connected, for one. In order for me to connect my students, I have to make those connections first. Yikes! For an introvert, that's quite a challenge. I am confident I can make this happen though. I want to get started right away to give my students as much practice as possible. I'll be starting right in with the digital citizenship lessons and writing lessons to ensure their success.
Blogging is the perfect example of redefinition of instruction. Never before have we had the chance to give our students authentic audiences like this, and I am honored to be able to offer this opportunity to my students. The beginning of school cannot come soon enough! (I'm sure I'll regret saying that when that time has finally come. :))