Sunday, January 14, 2007

Blogs for Elementary Kids

My 4th, 5th and 6th graders started blogging at a site called A Really Different Place several months ago. Luckily, I had a student's dad offer to set up the blog site using Drupel, he also offered to serve it. My main objectives were safe and responsible social networking, understanding of copyright and intellectual property issues, and of course writing real and relevent content for a real audience. I looked at dozens of student blogs, mostly high school student sites. Aside, I had to have the CIPA representative in our district unblock about 100 blog sites that I was trying to look at!

I saw things I wanted to include in our site, all the while thinking "what are they going to write about?" I envisioned that I would post a topic once a week or so and they would respond. Each student has their own blog but I have administrative rights and can delete or edit all of their entries. I started by explaining the rules, got permission to use these rules from Bud the Teacher. We then discussed commenting and I used Vicki Davis' How to Comment Like a King or Queen. I had used Blackboard.com for several years for online curriculum and online book discussions, so I was pretty comfortable about some of the hurdles we would have to overcome. I stressed that this was "formal" writing and they were not to include IM and chat language. I told them they must write using appropriate conventions and Iwould make them edit spelling and puncuation mistakes. Drupel used a WYSIWYG called tinymce, which has spell check, thank goodness! I told them they were participating in a written "conversation" and I would delete any comments like "Cool" or "Neat"!!

My co-teacher and I posted our first several blog entries and included a link to some creative writing prompts in the links section of the site. I also dug up appropriate RSS feed (a challenge) and included a Word of the Day node. The rest is history, they jumped in with both feet. I give them time in class (I only have them one day a week) and told them to blog 2-3 days a week in their regular classrooms or at home.

All in all I'm really pleased. The quality of the writing for the most part is very good condering our youngest bloggers are 9 years old. We have had blog entries on black holes...global warming...and the theory of relativity. We've also had entries on "50 Things I Would Not Be Caught Dead Wearing"..."Firedrills"..."Talent Shows" and opinions about the Katie Holmes and Tom Crusie nuptials!!

Some of our "writers" wanted a place to write books and comment on each others book writing so we included a "Book" section to remove creative writing from the blog posts. We do have several poets who post poems on their blogs. We also have a book discussion section, which is still being developed.

The only disappointment is that some of my best bloggers don't take the time outside of class to participate, but they'll come around!! Several parents and teachers have joined in and that has been a great add-on. Let me know of your blogging successes and frustrations.

7 comments:

Esther said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Elaina

http://www.craigslistpostingtools.info

nbosch said...

Thanks for stopping by--I don't have many readers so I don't post as often as I should. I have two other blogs--Our classroom blog is http://areallydifferentplace.org and my primary source blog is http://averyoldplace.blogspot.com Maybe if I posted more I'd have more visitors!

Jocelyn Bystrom said...

Hello,
I've just found your blog site and feel like it's a huge gift. I am just starting out as a gifted education teacher teaching a one day a week pull out program with a differing group each day of the week. I've just begun blogging with my students at www.challenge71.edublogs.org but have to admit that at times I get quite overwhelmed. I will continue to check out your blog; but any tips, encouragement as I start out would be extremely appreciated.
Mrs. Jocelyn Bystrom

S.D. #71 Comox Valley
British Columbia, Canada

nbosch said...

Well you are just starting and I'm getting ready to retire--but I plan to be around for a while keeping up my blog and my websites so let me know if you need any help. You can see all we've done in the last few years here http://anotsodifferentplace.blogspot.com/2007/07/where-is-all-your-stuff.html

You can see our class blog here http://areallydifferentplace.org

Twinklestars Kids Play Schools chennai said...

I got your blog through Google search it nice to read and gain some knowledge

Dr. J said...

I found your blog in a Google search and plan to link it in an article I am researching. It is an example of the types of blogs teachers can create that encourage both adult and student input. I thank you for what you have done to encourage this literacy-building activity.

Dr. J - Tennessee

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