This year I learned about one of the most fantastic technology resources I have used in ages – Kidblog! Kidblog.org is a secure blogging service designed specifically for teachers and students. It allows teachers to create a classroom network of student blogs. Students can write their own blogs, read their classmates’ blogs, and write and respond to comments. Kidblog is free, and I feel totally comfortable with its security. Each class, and every student, has a private login. The blog is not published publicly to the web, so only those with the class web address and login information can access it. Also, every post and every comment must come to me for approval before it goes up, so I can monitor to be sure everything is positive and appropriate.
I set up Kidblog for my students and began using it just before our spring break, and it is AMAZING! My students are incredibly motivated and engaged, and I am finding more and more ways to use Kidblog to enhance our learning.
First, I love that Kidblog is a very real world use of technology. Social media has become an enormous part of our daily lives, and building the children’s fluency with this type of communication will be important for them as they learn to interact in this way. By using Kidblog, my students are learning to type, upload and manage photos and videos, navigate various types of keyboards, and utilize our ipad, SMARboard, and their home computers. In just a few short weeks I have seen my students’ comfort with using technology grow tenfold.
Second, I think it is so powerful that Kidblog offers my students an authentic audience for their writing. So often they are writing just to put a piece away in a folder, never to be read or looked at. And they know that. By giving them an audience, the kids have begun to elevate their writing. They know that I will be reading what they write, but it is also shared with all of the other students in the class, as well as their parents, and our principal! This audience is a huge motivator.
Over spring break, I asked my students to write a small moment about one of their experiences, and then post a photo. They could also make comments. I also posted. Just look at the number of comments that we exchanged! We had a great discussion, and the kids were doing powerful writing, all while on break!
Third, I love the way Kidblog builds communication. By reading each other’s blogs, my kids are learning more about each other. Even though we have been together in class since September, I am finding new connections forged through the comments. One of my little girls wrote a post about getting a new Angry Birds 3D game for Easter. All of a sudden I had several boys comment on how cool that was, and now those kids are talking more in class as well!
Fourth, this type of work is increasing motivation for some of my hesitant or lackluster writers. The new format is engaging, and I am seeing kids that previously refused to write, or lacked interest in writing, showing real motivation! Even just taking the fine motor piece out of the picture has leveled the playing field for some of my kids.
Finally, I love how Kidblog has provided me with ways of making new learning experiences so interesting. Each year I do a series of four science experiments with my kids. The kids work in teams, and only do one of the four experiments. They make observations and keep a science journal for eight days, and at the end of the eight days, they share the process and results of their experiment with the class. This year, instead of keeping separate, handwritten journals, I have created four science blogs. These additional blogs are collaborative, and each team sits down together once a day. They take photos, upload photos, and type their observations. The kids are thrilled to share their blog posts with the rest of the class at the end of each day. I find that all my students are learning more about all of the experiments through the blogs!
I am in no way affiliated with Kidblog.org, and I get no kickbacks from them. I just love what Kidblog has given to me and my students this year. It is free, simple to set up, and so fun! The main site is at Kidblog.org. This is where the teacher sets up the class network. I also created a very explicit guide for parents, complete with instructions and lots of photos, to help them work with their children on the things I ask them to do at home. You can get that guide for free by clicking here: Kidblog Parent Guide.
I know I am only just touching on the surface of what Kidblog has to offer, and I am so excited to keep exploring its potential! I know that there are networks of classes joining together to read and comment on each other’s blogs, and I think that is what we will look into next!
Do you blog with your class? How do you use technology to enhance their learning?