I had a brainstorm over winter break---many elementary kids NEVER do any authentic writing. OK, they write an occassional narrative or what ever it is they have to do for state assessment. BUT rarely do they write on a topic of their interest for other people to read. We've had a class blog, A Really Different Place, for three years and some of the posts are "extended analysis and synthesis over longer periods of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments" (Will Richardson), some are low level chats.
All of my 5th and 6th graders have to blog once a week (at home) but I've decided to raise the bar. I decided that many kids don't know how to write an entry that will evoke discussion or reflection. So just the week we had a long discussion on Bloom's Taxonomy, talked about and gave example of the six levels. Then I used Andrew Churches' Digital Taxonomy blogging rubric and exemplars to show how different posts fall into different levels. Their task over the next week is to write a thought-provoking post that will generation discussion and reflection--and so far I'm very pleased. (Prizes will be given!!) If you want to see the results start at Recent Posts to see who's blogging about what.
I do wonder if fourth grade is too young for high level posts and comments---I teach gifted kids and what I notice about the difference between the 4th graders and the older kids is the 4th graders are still young, immature (as far as social topics), and oblvious to what going on in the world. They are still really self-centered and their worlds can be pretty small.
Another thing I've put in place from the blog's beginnings is "formal" writing, no chat lingo, no text language, no personal "diary" type entries. Let me know if you need any more info.
Crosspost Classroom 2.0