student blogging

My Kidblog Settings for Optimal Global Collaboration

Those who have followed this blog for a while or have found it because you are searching for student blogging resources, know how deeply passionate I am about student blogging and global collaboration.  I am therefore often asked what my settings are for Kidblog and for my students’ use of the site so I thought I would share these.  I have found these settings to offer the safety needed for my students while still allowing them and the world to have a dialogue.

Posts Settings:

I find it incredibly important that anyone can read our posts and so far my school district has agreed.  I do, however, give parents a way to opt their students out of blogging if they do not feel comfortable with their child doing it since it is so public.  However, no student has ever been opted out.  Safety is my main concern, as well as how these students represent themselves, so I do moderate all posts before they are published.  I do not get an email but simply check every day.  My students blog too much for me to be notified each time one of them writes a new post.

Comments Settings:

Again, we do  not have password to leave comments on our site nor do you have to be an approved member.  We blog to start conversations with others around the world and as long as I am moderating all comments, I feel we can do it safely.  Every once in a while do I need to delete a comment before a student sees it but mostly because it is a spam one or a duplicate one.  In the three years I have blogged with students, i think we have had 2 insensitive comments left.  i deleted them – no harm done.

Finally, Student Settings:

This is where Kidblog keeps proving its brilliance and relevance; this year they added that students could edit their own profiles, thus customizing it to fit their needs.  This has been a huge hit for my students because they feel more in control of their blog and the image they are presenting to the world.  I also like that they can change their password since this is an important computer skill for them to be aware of.  I can still access all of their accounts without knowing their password.

So there you have it, our settings for our classroom student blog, I hope it was helpful, as always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  And no, I am not a paid spokesperson for Kidblog; I just love their blogging platform.  If you happen to live in the Wisconsin, Illinois area, I will be presenting on student blogging at ICE on February 28th.

student blogging

My Favorite New Things on KidBlog

Since I started blogging with my students I have used KidBlog and I must say this product gets better and better!  It is hard to believe that it is free at times, go Kidblog!  So recently they unveiled a whole slew of updates and changes to the otherwise static website and I must say I am impresed and my students are very, very excited.  here are some of our favorite new features:

  1. The visitor stats!  Yeah!!!  We can finally see how many people are visiting and where they are coming from. This little feature truly enlightened my students just how many people read their writing and helped them elevate their blogging.
  2. The new themes.  We are not here to look pretty but it sure is nice that there are more options as we try to draw visitors to our blog.
  3. The student control.  Each student can now choose their own theme, as well as create their own title for their blog.  This gives them bigger ownership and helps them showcase themselves to the world.  I love that they can truly set up their own blog while still being “protected” by me.
  4. The tagging.  What a great way to have students be organized as well as keeping track of who is doing what  Now that we can tag posts I can quickly see who is blogging about what and whether we tend to focus on one area more than another.
  5. Blog roll!  Under the new widgets you can add other classes that will show up right on our blog for my students to connect with.  No more trying to get them to type in the right address, just click on the name and go to the site.  fantastic for us as we try to connect with as many classrooms as possible and boraden our horizons.

And so much more, these are just my favorite of the new things you can do.  If you ever need any help setting up your Kidblog please feel free to contact me.

student blogging

Creating Global Citizens with Meaningful Blogging

This Tuesday, I am lucky enough to get to present on something I hold very dear to my heart; student blogging.  Best of all, this webinar is free for anyone that want to register and it is only 30 minutes!  What follows is the official description from SimpleK12:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 @ 4:30:00 PM EST
How would you like to invite the world into your classroom and expose your students’ writing to an authentic audience? Do you want your students to be global citizens who are connected with other children around the world? If so, then student blogging is for you! In this webinar we will show you how to get started with student blogging, as well as how to connect with others throughout the world. We will explore some examples of how global blogging can be used in the classroom and share some tips to make it easier.

If you would like to join me in this webinar, please register here

I will be discussing how to get started with blogs, as well as how to get connected with others.  This is also a great tie to ask me any questions you may have on student blogging.  I hope to “see” you on Tuesday!

being a teacher, blogging, student blogging, Student-centered

What Does Student Blogging Exactly Do?

As a proponent of student blogging I am often asked what it “does” for my students.  The thing is, it does quite a bit.

  • Provides them with a voice.  Education cannot be done to students anymore, they have to have a voice since it is their lives it effects the most; blogging gives them that.
  • Gives them an authentic writing audience.  The product doesn’t end with me and a grade, it is out for the world to see and to continue to be developed.  
  • Puts their place in the world in context.  We think our students know how much in common they have with kids their age around the world, but they don’t usually.  Blogging with those kids and connecting through projects such as the Global Read Aloud brings the world in.
  • Increases their global knowledge.  Again, when you connect with others through your work and words, friendships develop and as does a mutual interest in the lives of one another   This is the modern version of penpals.
  • Instills them with tech saviness and confidence.  Blogging teaches my students yet another tool to use and we also use it to showcase other tools we have played around with.  They feel confident in their skills as bloggers and it carries into their overall tech approach.
  • Instills safety rules and measures to be taken whilst online.  We drill safety all year and the kids know the lessons by heart.  It is our job to teach them how to be safe and the best way to do that is to work with them in situations that could be unsafe if treated the wrong way.
  • Teaches them how to give constructive feedback.  We comment on each others posts but they have to be constructive comments.  Blogging is a natural extension of the peer edit.
  • Teaches them how to have a meaningful written dialogue.  When students don’t get comments on their posts, we often go back to see why not.  Usually they realize it was not written in a manner that invited others to participate in their writing.  Revision and reformulating follows.
  • Cements proofreading and spell check.  We don’t want the world to see us as a poor spellers or grammatical buffoons.
  • Expands their geographical knowledge.  We pushpin maps with the location of our connections, this sparks more questions, which lead to a deeper relationship between the students and those we connect with.  
  • Furthers their empathy, as well as interest in others.  Blogging should not be a solitary experience, but rather one that invites discussion.  To have meaningful discussions one must care about others, which is shown through their questions.
  • Encourages them to view their own writing through a more critical lens.  Because we have a portfolio of their writing from the beginning of the year to now, we can go back and see their development.  Are they developing as a writer or what do they need to focus on?  The stakes are raised because it is not just the teacher that sees their work.
  • Creates reflective students.  Because students are given a mouthpiece to the world, I see them take more chances to reflect on themselves and their choices.  It is remarkable to see a student reflect on what grades has taught them  or what it means to be a student.
  • It creates opportunities for us to have fun.

blogging, i, student blogging, students

Ideas for Integrating a Student Blog into Your Curriculum

One thing I have loved about blogging and what it does for my students is how easily it has been to integrate it into our curriculum.  I knew when we started that I didn’t want an extra layer of “stuff to do” because we already have too much “stuff to do.”  So if I were to have my students blog, it had to be as authentic and as meaningful as possible, without it becoming another homework burden.  With that in mind, here are some beginning ideas for integrating blogging into your classroom.

  • Those daily journal responses we have to do as part of writers and readers workshop, those go on our blog instead for those who choose it.  Some students prefer to type, others relish the pencil and paper, I love that they have a choice.
  • Writing about our reading.  I love when students write about the books that they read or give recommendations.  When we blog about that it opens up a dialogue, rather than a static finished product.  Here students can become experts on their books and connect with others that loved it (or hated it) just as much as they did.
  • Science detectives.  I love adding video cameras and digital cameras to our lessons.  They offer students a different way to document their learning and they always provide me with a much deeper insight of what students now versus a worksheet.  So why not post it on our blog for others to see and learn with us.  This is a great a way for parents to see what is happening, as well as for the kids to be questioned by other classes or scientists.  This adds a whole other dimension to our experiments.
  • Editorials or just plain old opinions.  I love when students use their blogs to form, discuss or expand on their ideas.  Our blogs are used to comment on the happenings in the classroom.  I ask the students to become reflective learners and process their role as a student.  It never ceases to amaze me what I learn from students when they open up on their blog.
  • Deepening social studies.  I believe in project based learning and social studies lends itself incredibly well to this.  So I encourage students to expand their thinking about their project through their blogs, as well as to post finished products if “postable.”   
  • Group writing.  I love it when students write blog posts together, whether it be for a story or to share a common experience.  Blogging as a team or group shows off their ability to conform to a common voice while adding individual flair.
  • Reporting on events.  When we go anywhere or take a virtual field trip I ask students to share their experiences, show of their expertise, and give me their honest opinion.  Field trips don’t end after you get back, they should be digested and discussed and blogging is a great medium for that.
  • Furthering their mathematical thinking.  I used to have students do exit slips on which they explained something we learned in their own words and while I still use them once in a while, I love using our blog instead.  I have students create a problem that fits into what we discussed and then solve it for, or explain their thinking behind the problem.  We can then invite others into our math class and students get to share their knowledge.
  • Let me know how I am doing.  While not part of our curriculum, this is a huge factor in the success of our classroom.  Students have to have a mouthpiece in education and by voicing their opinions on our blogs we are able to engage other educators and students in the debate.  Change starts with us, so we should be providing students with an outlet for their opinions.
These ideas are beginnings, there are so many things you can do with student blogs, you just have to jump in and look for the natural fits in your curriculum.  Students don’t need more work, they need more authenticity in their educational experience.  Blogs can help us do that.