I have admittedly put off writing this blog post because, to be honest, blogging intimidates me somewhat. As an adult I am often self-conscious of how my peers perceive my work, in this case, the blog post. I worried about perfecting the content and the form so much that I kept pushing this post to the back burner. How did I finally find the courage to write this? From my inspiring students of course!
At about the same time I joined Down the Road, I began a blog for the students in my classroom. We use Kidblog, a free, secure blogging site geared towards classroom use. When we first started blogging I set aside a class period to introduce this new project. When I told the class the big news that we would have a classroom blog, responses varied from shouts of joy to “what’s a blog?” Once I explained that it would be a place for students to free-write, as well as to share details about school with friends and family, there was a collective excitement in the classroom. Kids couldn’t wait to get down to the computer lab to blog.
My students started much the same way I did here on Down the Road, by writing an introduction post. Once everyone had the experience of creating their first post, I allowed more open-ended assignments. We do sometimes type posts as a class that are all related to the same content, for example blogging about an assignment we did in science or social studies. This allows for some great cross curricular opportunities; kids are re-reading content from our units and getting extra exposure to the big ideas without even realizing it! After children finish their own post, teachers encourage them to read their friends posts and write comments. When it comes to commenting on friends posts, students can type at their own pace, often allowing our language impaired students that extra processing time they need to formulate a thoughtful and appropriate question. It’s also less intimidating for some children to share their thoughts in typing as opposed to speaking in front of a group. Some of the children have fallen in love with blogging to the point that they have begun blogging at home! One of my favorite things is when a student comes into school on Monday morning with a big smile saying, “Ms. Parker did you see my blog post?”
I’ve also found that some students crave this outlet of free expression. When I think about the opportunities students have throughout the day to express themselves freely, I realize how limited these opportunities can be. Students must raise their hands to speak during lessons, line up with “a zero voice” and wait until lunch or choice time to have unstructured conversations with their peers, often only to have these conversations cut short when it’s time to move on to the next activity. Blogging provides an outlet for students to write about anything they wish knowing someone will hear it. Often parents or other family members post replies to their child’s post, but I always make sure to comment on every students post to ensure they know they are being heard. Some students don’t type much; they are thrilled to write maybe one or two sentences, however the idea that they have the ability to write anything is so exciting to them. The excitement my students showed towards blogging is what helped me finally write this post. Blogging really is a great outlet for adults and children alike!