There have been many posts about the benefits of blogging with students. On the Langwitches Blog Slivia talks about a variety of concerns and things to think about when beginning blogging with students. She also lists more resources, which I won’t re-list here.
I decided to allow my students to choose whether they would like to continue writing their weekly letters about their independent reading to me or they would like to start a blog. With the blog they have a much wider audience and can be a bit more creative with topics, plus they get the benefit of feedback from multiple sources. My requirement is that they create one literature related post a week that will be graded, but they may post every day if they wish. I told the students that the blog would be more work, they would have to spend much more homework time preparing and thinking of topics. Do you know how many signed up? All but three. We just started today so they are still getting their sea legs. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.
I chose to use Kidblogs for this. I’ve checked out a variety of blogging services for students and this one is my favorite so far.
1) I have complete and utter control. My students are not yet ready to fly on their own and this site gives me the option to approve all posts and comments before they are published. I love this because I can scaffold their efforts, teach them how to post and comment, and finally release them when they are ready.
2) The layout is simple and easy to use. In fact, it’s a lot like WordPress which makes me happy because I already know how to use it! It’s simple and very intuitive for my students. This is great because I don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them to use the technology, we can focus on the content.
My only wish is that I could add a widget to each student blog that would track their reading. Kind of like a Shelfari for Kidblogs. A girl can dream.
I have not included a link to my students’ work to protect their privacy. They have agreed that because they are just starting out, they would like some time to decide whether or not they will be taking their blogs public or just sharing them within the class.