Since I began taking my first Information and Technology In The Classroom course (last year) and began learning more and more about 21st Century tools, I have become so passionate about exploring the idea of classroom blogging. My teaching partner, Ray Swinarchin has also become interested in blogging as a way to engage his students. Although we know we have much to learn about it and have to work on making it more exciting and interactive for our students, we have come to believe in the benefits of class blogging through reading many other classroom blogs and by learning from many other teachers experiences.
Before discussing the benefits, we would like to talk about some of the challenges that some teachers face and offer some ways in which we have planned to overcome these challenges. The first challenge is in regards to student safety. Many people have fears that by posting on blogs we will expose children to the general public. This concern can be addressed by having lessons that address how to be safe online. Before children are given access to blogs, we will have them read appropriate posts and practice writing blogs. A second concern sometimes raised, is that students do not know how to write quality comments. The reason this often occurs is that students have not been taught how to write these comments. Teachers often create blogs and expect students to be able to write and respond. A final concern about classroom blogging is regarding the access children have to using technology. We are addressing this concern by making technology available to students during class time. For after hours, children who do not have the use of technology at home can access a computer and the internet at public libraries. Though there are some challenges with classroom blogging, there are many more benefits to enhance student learning and success:
Supports Reading Skills
Reading other blogs is an important part of the blogging process. By reading posts from other bloggers, students learn about creating interesting and informative blogs. This allows them to make connections and practice reading for authentic purposes.
Helps Students Develop Writing Skills
In our class we will be using blogging to address a variety of writing skills. Writing posts together allows us to look at how to present information to a desired audience. As well, students will be expected to write quality comments that follow a letter format (intro, body, closing). Writing using paragraphs will also become an expectation, which is a part of the grade 4 and 5 language curriculum.
Teaches Students to Build a Positive Digital Footprint and Practice Internet Safety
Most students today are using the internet in some capacity today. They will only continue to access this tool more and more as they get older. It is important to teach students how to be safe on the internet and how to ensure that they are creating a positive image of themselves and their actions online. It is not enough to do this over a few brief lessons; blogging allows consistent regular practice for these important skills.
Class blogging can allow opportunities for collaboration in many ways. Students can work together to build posts for our readers. Students may work in groups on a collaborative project and this can be shared on our blog for feedback from other students in the class or from global viewers. As well, blogging gives us the opportunity to connect with other classes around the globe and establish relationships. Classes can learn from each other and can have a better understanding of geography, time zones, and social interactions.
Includes Parents in their Children’s Learning
Blogging provides a window into what is happening into our classroom. Parents can see what students are learning about and have regular updates on what is for homework. As well, many parents often wish they could be more involved in their child’s learning. The classroom blog is a great place for parents to leave comments about what we’re learning or ask thought provoking questions about our topics. This gives students a reason to consolidate what they’ve learned and put a response together that shows their understanding of new concepts. As well, parents are able to create guests posts about topics of their choice. Students would love reading about topics our parents know lots about or to hear about some exciting facts from places our parents have traveled to. This encourages our students to ask questions and write quality comments.
Without a doubt, I know that students love using technology. Students are motivated by the idea of blogging. Many teachers who use blogs report that students show improvements in their reading and writing through blogging. There is also an increase in effort and creativity from students when they know their work is being published for an authentic and immediate audience. Students who tend to be reluctant writers are more willing to write when their work is being published on the class blog.
Students Learn 21st Century Learning Skills
Students today will require a variety of skills when they enter the workforce. Many of them will have jobs that haven’t even been created yet. For this, they will be expected to be confident in using a large variety of 21st Century Learning skills. Blogging teaches students to navigate the internet, how to create digital presentations, how to type, how to work with others in different locations, media literacy skills, reflection skills, and a variety of technology skills.
Mrs. Yollis is a fellow blogger who I am inspired by. She has been blogging with her grade 2’s and 3’s for several years now and has seen many benefits of the process. See what her students have to say about blogging:
Still not convinced, here is a great infographic that the amazing Langwitches shared on her blog:
For any of the challenges that may be faced in the learning process, the skills learned through blogging are invaluable!
Miss. Azzapardi’s Class. “Why We Blog.” Five White’s Class blog. Accessed 08.04.14
Yollis, Linda. “Rewards of Teaching Young Children to Blog.” SmartBlog on Education. Posted 08.08.12. Accessed 08.04.14
Morris, Kathleen. “Flattening Classroom Walls With Blogging and Global Collaboration.” The Edublogger. Posted 07.02.12. Accessed 08.04.14
Miss. Jordan’s Class. “Why we Blog in 4KM and 4KJ.” 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School. Accessed 08.04.14
Yollis, Linda. “Why Have a Class Blog.” Educational-Blogging. Accessed 08.04.14
Mrs.Yollis’ Class. “What We’ve Learned from Blogging.” Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog. Posted 05.08.09. Accessed 08.04.14
Sinha, Rini. “Blogging in Classroom: Steps and Benefits.” EdtechReview. Posted 05.16.13. Accessed 08.04.14
Tolisano, Silvia. “Implementing Blogging in the Classroom.” Langwitches. Posted 10.08.12. Accessed 08.04.14
Davis, Anna. “Rationale for Educational Blogging.” Edublog Insights. Posted 01.17.07. Accessed 08.04.14
Holland, Beth.”Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students.” Edutopia. Posted 06.18.14. Accessed 08.04.14
Morris, Kathleen. “The Benefits of Educational Blogging.” Primary Tech. Posted 03.08.13. Accessed 08.04.14.
Utecht, Jeff. “Blogs Are Not The Enemy.” Tech and Learning. Posted 04.20.06. Accessed 08.04.14.