I am currently in the midst of a blogging project with my 4th grade computer students. Yes, you read correctly, I am teaching my 4th graders to blog. There are so many wonderful higher order thinking/writing skills students can practice while blogging. Blogging allows them to create a web presence that is uniquely theirs to express their learning or ideas. It also encourages them to evaluate and analyze what others are saying and write kind, yet critical, comments in response. These comments then spark further conversation and analysis.
Now, there is a process to teaching students to blog. I wouldn't jump right in and given them a "have at it!" I think it is critical to teach each component of blogging on paper before you set them loose on the world wide web. In order to do this, I have adapted a lesson I first learned about from the blog Notes from McTeach. In her blog post, Karen McMillan discusses her adventures in teaching her 7th graders to blog using paper. What I really liked about her lesson was the emphasis she put on developing her students commenting skills. I have been working through this process with my 4th graders and it is really interesting to see the thought they put in to their comments. Providing comment starters, like the ones shown in Karen's blog post were critical to get my students beyond the "it was good" response.
Richard Byrne, from Free Technology for Teachers, recommends blogging to all teachers. He offers up three possible ways to use blogs in the classroom: Distribution, Discussion, and Demonstration. To learn more about these three ideas and to check out his "Complete Guide to Using Blogger in School" take a look at his blog post The One Activity I Recommend to Every Teacher.
If you would like to discuss ways you could integrate blogging in to your classroom, we are here to help. If you have used blogging in your classrooms and/or with your students, I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment and share your experience (both the trials and tribulations!).