How I Use It
An introductory lesson was done to help students understand what a blog is and how they are used. Another lesson about creating and editing blog posts was done with students. A final lesson on how to create quality comments was done so that comments posted would be positive and provide helpful feedback. Short lessons on writing skills can be done at various times based on reading blog posts and comments on each individual Kidblog class site. Some teachers have used writing rubrics with their students. I've worked with several teachers to help them create and utilize rubrics for students to assess their own writing. This has helped to strengthen writing skills and make them aware of what is expected as they add new blog posts to their Kidblog site. I have found that it's important to edit the settings before students start using the site. Just a few checks under posts and comments in settings helps to control the amount of blog posts and comments that students can make. While it does require a little extra time to review posts and comments, it is worth reading quality writing rather than quantity that may require additional editing before publishing. The Kidblog sites that I've helped set up have all been set to private so that only the teacher and the students can access their blog. Students use numbers instead of their actual names which provides a non-threatening way for students to write and publish. Some things to consider when doing this again with students would be to share blog sites within the same school and/or grade level and assign a peer to comment and make helpful suggestions about writing.
I have introduced Kidblog to 6 classes (Five 5th grade and one 4th grade) at 3 different elementary schools. The students are very excited about having their own blog space. Most have been using Microsoft Word to type journal entries or stories. This limits their ability to access and edit their writing. Kidblog offers a place for students to login at school or at home. They can create a new blog post, or edit one that has been saved as a draft. All posts must be approved before they appear for the class to view. This gives students the chance to revise and edit their writing based on a checklist that is followed. Teachers and students can add comments (also pending approval) to blog posts. Using Kidblog has been a great way to foster meaningful writing and build writing stamina with 5th grade students as they prepare to take a direct writing evaluation in the spring (part of Virginia's SOLs). I have really enjoyed using the site with students and will be introducing several new classes to Kidblog this month!