Blogging in the classroom is a total writing program for any teacher. Even if you aren’t the writing teacher, you can still use blogging in the classroom with your students. Most teachers have a website attached to their district’s website. It’s mostly a place for students and parents to find important information about grades, assignments and future events. However, a class blog can provide all that and more.
As an ELA teacher, I had tried the many different routes for writing about reading. Reading logs and journals are some of the more popular options, but these are incredibly time-consuming to grade. Reading logs quickly became the bane of my existence as a language arts teacher. We think that asking parents to sign reading logs students will have integrity with this assignment. That also assumes parents will uphold the integrity of the assignment, but really it becomes a thorn in everyone’s side.
Journals force students to be more accountable for their reading and require them to consistently write. However, that’s a whole lot of reading and grading for teachers. Not to mention the lugging home of a crate filled with journals. I even tried grading in a rotation so that everyone only received a weekly grade. This did not take into account the number of absences that would happen regularly. Needless to say, it was overwhelming each week and I needed to find a new solution.
Consider the opportunity for students to actively use the writing process weekly. A process that every standardized test is asking them to do. In a short time frame, students are asked to read the prompt, plan a multiple paragraph response, type that response, revise, edit and submit. Blogging will do the same. Each week I post 3-4 different prompts on the same topic in our Google Classroom page. These prompts are reflective of the lessons planned for the week. We might be writing about the characters from novels to prep for a lesson on how the setting affects characters. When it’s a holiday or school-wide theme week I might ask students to write in reference to those events.
Blog posts are informational and opinion writing. When teaching students how to write essays in these genres, having the background and practice with blogging helps. Subheadings are encouraged with blog writing which helps students who have trouble with multiple paragraphs. When sharing your opinion in a blog post you can’t get away with giving that opinion and no evidence for why. Those are two writing skills the majority of students struggle to do well.
Obviously, you can’t blog without typing and word processing skills. Both are essential now for state testing. I have seen a number of my students not finish the essay portion of their state test because they couldn’t type fast enough. Blogging in the classroom weekly gives them practice typing. I don’t mean pecking at a keyboard, I mean they must use two hands and practice the correct way.
Now let’s add in the technical know-how for creating images to feature in their blog posts, linking within a text, and how to write a thoughtful comment on classmates’ posts. Each of these provides computer skills that can be transferred to other subjects. Creating digital images can help students learn the basics of visual appeal that can be added to any type of digital project. Linking within a text is a skill EVERYONE should know how to do. I find it super funny that kids think they have to cut and paste the entire website into the document as their link. I try to teach them that any text can have a link, which makes the document look a whole lot prettier.
The writing of comments can become a type of writing for your class. Think about all the applications to anti-cyberbullying you could include with these lessons. Talking with students about their digital footprint and what they are posting to social media accounts. It helps when they are hearing it from multiple adults. Writing comments can also help students learn the art of elaboration. It’s not enough for them to comment, “Great post.” They need to learn how to compliment and show they read the post or ask a pointed question because they are genuinely interested.
Plus, when using Edublogs, students will learn the basics for navigating the WordPress platform. Considering WordPress runs 30% of the entire Internet, and that number is growing, this gives students future career knowledge. In my opinion, this makes blogging in the classroom the total package writing curriculum.
Let’s talk about keeping in touch and informing parents. With Edublogs you will set up a class blog that you can use for classroom communication with parents. It will look like a real blog with pages and widgets that you customize for your needs. Keep parents (and administrators) informed on units, assignments, needs, and all your foundational teacher information in one place. Simply send a link in an email and parents have all the information they need. Available to them at all hours of the day every day of the year. Fewer emails from parents asking questions you’ve already answered? Maybe.
Plus, parents will be able to follow their child’s writing progress and make comments to support their child. Now students aren’t just writing for a teacher-only audience. They now have a global audience. There is a hashtag specifically created for teachers to solicit comments, #comments4kids. If you have a student who needs some encouragement throw out the link to their blog post with the #comments4kids and they will get replies.
If all of this sounds like the total package writing program to you then you’re going to want to sign up for my updates below. This will keep you posted on all of the new FREEBIES I create specifically for blogging with students. It will also alert you to the launch of my course: How to start blogging with students. This course will feature resources to walk you and your students through the setup process, along with a full year’s writing curriculum.
To get you started with an Edublogs account and blog set up, use my slide deck with detailed instructions. You can also find more information on my Edublogs site, Blogging in the Classroom. If you would like to see what my classroom site looks like visit our Colorful Classroom. Currently, there are no student blogs attached and posts are being updated to reflect the upcoming school year.
A year of blogging in the classroom curriculum will be published and linked here September 1, 2018. Join the TMR tribe to have announcements and updates sent to your inbox when this curriculum is ready.
Tell me what questions you have about blogging with your students.