Without a doubt, the buzz word in our class this year has been BLOGS. Seven months into the school year, and the enthusiasm and enjoyment for blogging in our class is as strong, if not stronger, than day one. The kids are motivated to use their blogs for their school work as well as for personal posts.
So what’s so great about them? Well here are seven reasons that I have loved having the kids blog this year. I hope you are inspired to give blogging a go with your students and see similar results. You can check out all of the tasks I have my kids work on on their blogs at my class blog http://mrg-gr4.blogspot.com.
To build IT skills
There is no doubting that our students are going to need to know how to use and adapt to new technologies. Having students blogging for class and homework has allowed us to learn some of the following skills, beyond the basics of editing and formatting text: embedding video and sound files using YouTube and AudioBoo; embed charts from GoogleDocs, insert photos after using an iPhone to photograph and email them, modify colour and formatting themes, hyperlinking, and the list goes on. Click on the links above to see some examples.
We all have them… those quiet students who hardly make a peep in class. Delightful at times, but I can’t help but feel there’s so much I never get to know about them. Blogs have helped me to gain an insight in to some of these kids’ learning by giving them the time and privacy to share their thoughts in a less confronting way. Take the case of one boy whose reading fluency is lacking, not because he can’t read the words as I thought, but because… well you read what he said by clicking the top image to the right.
Or there’s the girl who gained an incredible understanding of the concept of why biodiversity exists. I didn’t get to learn about this on the field trip because I was too busy telling her other ‘answers’. When she got home and had the time to process and explain her thoughts, only then did I get to hear her understanding.
To track learning over time
Starting the beginning of a unit of learning, it’s always a good idea to see what your students know. Well to start our recent simple machines unit, I had the kids watch a video of a Rube Goldberg machine and explain what was happening and why, and what parts of the machine they knew. Later in the unit I had the kids review their post and update it with their new learning. You can see the task instructions here and one example here: first attempt, second attempt.
To allow for genuine self-reflection
Having kids make reflections of their own reading can be hard when they can’t hear themselves. So, with the assistance of my iPhone and the AudioBoo app I was able to record the kids reading and then have them embed their reading into their blogs. Once this was done, the kids were able to make more accurate judgements on their reading fluency and expression and set goals for improvement. Check it out here.
Isn’t it nice when kids have a place to celebrate? Their blogs have become this place. Check out the nice example to the right.
To allow parents to easily see work and give feedback
It’s wonderful when the parents are able to see their kids work as they complete it. It’s more wonderful when the parents are able to leave a comment sharing their pride. Here’s a nice one.
To have a genuine audience
That’s you guys! Please take some time to visit the kids’ blogs who are open and leave them a comment. It will make their day. You can visit all of their blogs here (well the ones that are open at least).