Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2016

Kidblog

Safe, supportive blogs boost kids' writing skills and digital citizenship

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
1-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: A straightforward and safe blogging experience that supports 21st-century skills.

Cons: This is just a platform; it's up to the teachers to make learning happen.

Bottom Line: It's a go-to resource for quick, safe, and easy student blogging.

Use Kidblog as a platform for your students to publish their writing, audio, visual, or video projects. With the easy embedding features from other services like Edmodo and Glogster, the sky is the limit in terms of the creativity kids can bring to their Kidblog projects. As a teacher, you can also create a class blog as a way to communicate with parents. Include information about daily happenings in the classroom, upcoming deadlines, and learning tips for students. Teachers could also use Kidblog as a digital portfolio, which could grow with students from year to year within the same school district.

The ability to adjust privacy settings on Kidblog provides an opportunity to respect (and protect) your students' privacy, but it also serves as an invitation to discuss the issue of online privacy and safety with them. Ask your students to discuss issues such as who can see their blog versus other blogs on the internet. Also, be sure to share with your class clear behavioral norms around acceptable content. Having these discussions is a great way to encourage critical thinking about the ways students interact on the web.

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Kidblog is a blogging platform intended primarily for kids, moderated by teachers, librarians, or school administrators. The site requires an adult to create a classroom or school account with only an email address. There's also a one-click option through Google's universal login, making it very convenient for Google users. After creating an account, teachers follow a set of links to set up multiple classes, adjust privacy settings, post a message, and get kids blogging.

Students aren't required to provide an email address to use the service. Students can get connected using only some general information: A URL, their teacher's name, and the class name (as created by the teacher) are all they'll need. Students can then select their name from a class list previously imported by the teacher. Teachers can manage and moderate their students' blogs, and additional features include private commenting, embedding content within blogs, email support, and free themes. 

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Editor's Note: Teachers should know that Kidblog has some privacy concerns. Consult our full evaluation for details.

Blogging is a great way to support students as both writers and creators of digital content. Students' writing instruction can be much more meaningful when they know they'll have an authentic audience for their work. Using Kidblog, the various privacy levels allow students access to an audience that could include peers, parents, other teachers, and even the public. Students can also develop editing skills by peer editing each other's blogs. For digital creators, publishing on the web is a great way to encourage students to learn an important 21st-century skill. Additionally, they'll get a chance to practice digital citizenship in a safe, closed environment, rather than jumping right into the deep end when they're older. 

For teachers, Kidblog has a strong social media presence, with a support blog, Twitter feed, and Google+ page. Teachers are encouraged to share ideas, interact with others, and contact the site's support staff with any issues or requests for new features. As with any Web 2.0 tool, these features are crucial in ensuring kids' learning outcomes. On top of that, Kidblog's features make the process efficient so teachers can focus on what matters most: student learning.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Content creation on the web is generally an engaging activity for students. Kidblog provides support so students and teachers can focus on the writing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kidblog advocates teacher management of student-empowered writing, and providing a safe space for student exploration is the focus.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Safeguards and security are built in through teacher options for privacy settings; it's easy and efficient.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

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