This week I felt a huge sense of accomplishment...blogging is becoming mainstream in our elementary classrooms. For the past three years, teachers had the ability to blog through our Microsoft SharePoint based classroom websites. The blogs are hosted in district and teachers give rights for access to the blog, who can contribute, etc. At first, our techie teachers dove in and got the ball rolling. Other teachers took notice and more teachers started to dabble. Then came the beginning of this year...a majority of the teachers I have assisted had a blog on their website. That was enough to get me excited, but that was not the reason for my elation. It was the application of the blogs to their curriculum that was so exciting. Students are now blogging about a wide range of topics:
- reader's response journals
- written response journals
- science reflections
- free student writing
Students are having online conversations with each other and their teacher. Instead of writing just for the teacher, students are writing for each other. This expanded audience equals greater accountability and greater effort. Teachers are taking advantage of the blogs by showcasing and discussing blog post and comments in groups at the SMARTBoard. From there, students can provide analysis of the writing and its ideas. This is more than just writing...it is writing with a purpose, an audience, and the ability to apply 21st century communication skills to their daily work.
So what is next? I would love to see teachers offer students more choice and freedom on their blog assignments. Allowing students to have a "Passions Blog" so that they could express themselves about topics that are a passion would be fabulous. Incorporate some language arts standards here with some 21st century research skills, and now you have a motivated student ready to write with a purpose!
So you are an elementary teacher who wants to blog with your students but your district does not use SharePoint for teacher websites. SharePoint is just the tool. Find another blogging platform, such as Kid Blog. It is free and easy to use. The same results can be achieved regardless of the blogging platform.
It feels good to see blogging as a mainstream teacher tool in the elementary school!
This is technology that actually works!