This year, my professional goal setting has expanded to include 21st century learning skills that are at the forefront of educational news and educator professional development. The idea behind 21st century skills and incorporating them into classrooms is to utilize technology to help students build those skills necessary for the future. Information related to 21st century learning skills suggest that classrooms should include creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration.
Obviously, blogging has become a major part of my professional dialogue through Big Universe Learning, and I have seen first hand the impact that blogging can have on my teaching development and continuous sharing of innovative ideas. I wanted to provide my students with the same type of opportunity to communicate and collaborate with their peers in a 21st century form. (The site that I use for classroom blogging is www.kidblog.org since it is extremely user friendly and easy for primary age students to understand.)
When initially setting up our classroom blog, I introduced the concept to my students through examples of how people use blog sites in their everyday lives. Then, as a class we determined the topics and expectations that all blogs should follow. In addition, we discussed in great detail the information related to Internet safety.
Internet Safety Concepts:
- Understanding that the Internet is viewable to the public (Regardless of being password protected.)
- Students should never use their first and last name, and the location in which they live or go to school on a blog post.
- Students should never put a picture of themselves on a blog post. However, pictures of objects related to the main idea of their post are acceptable.
- Comments written on the blog site should be appropriate, and the comment should be directly related to the main idea of the blog post.
- Students should only sign into the blog site with their unique username/ password. Using another student’s password information without permission is considered “hacking” into their account.
Each student’s first blog post was a controlled topic which helped to introduce the students to all the features of publishing a blog post, as well as, viewing their peers’ postings and leaving appropriate comments. My students created “Transitional Phrase Stories” titled “A Day in My Life,” which helped to introduce them to their peers, while also meeting academic content standards for Language Arts.
From this first blog posting, students have been encouraged to post blogs related to the agreed upon topics. (Personal experiences with family, sporting events, books and vacations, etc. Or, students can blog about concepts that we are learning about in the classroom. Our blog topic list is ever expanding.) To my surprise, many of my students have not only enjoyed posting new blogs for their peers to read, but have also left meaningful and creative responses to others’ postings. All comments are subject to teacher approval, making it easy for educators to monitor comments for appropriateness. Additionally, each week I post a blog related to literature or a learning concept, and encourage students to leave comments to promote an online dialogue. Not only are my students visiting their blog at school, but many of them are also logging on at home!
This week, I posted the following blog topic:
“We have been using www.kidblog.org for a few weeks now, and many of you are becoming comfortable with how to post and leave comments. Think back to your experiences with this site, and leave a comment to reflect on the following question: What do you like most about blogging?”
Popular Student Comments:
- “I like reading what other kids blog.”
- “I like being able to talk to my friends.”
- “I like it because I can talk to my friends at my house.”
- “Sending comments to friends about books.”
- “I love sending comments.”
- “I like it because I can talk with my class when I’m not in school, and it is cool to blog with my class!”
- “I like it because you get to blog and send comments.”
- “I like it because my friends can read what I write.”
Classroom blogging has greatly impacted my students’ willingness to share ideas, communicate and collaborate creatively, while also meeting reading and writing academic content standards! I hope my experience encourages other educators to take a risk and introduce students to the world of blogging!