Monday, 26 March 2012

Looking at blogs for students...

Midway through the term, about 3 weeks ago, I decided to cancel the exploration of an online pathfinder since I realized that it would be very similar to Livebinders that I explored here. In its place I decided to explore blogging with the group of grade 7 students that I have been working with since January. I became intrigued by when I read Joanne's and Lenora's posts on this Web 2.0 tool.

I am going to have the students start blogging in two weeks. We are just finishing up a unit on digital citizenship and how to create a positive online presence. Blogging will fit right in with this unit and it will also be a great segueway to our research unit on Mesoamerica. I will have the students use their blogs as an online process journal for the research project.

Setting up the blogs was very simple. I signed up for an account which gave me my own blog within the system. I then added in the 29 students individually, which didn't take any time at all.

After I completed this step, the program created a drop-down menu with all of the students' names in it. I have added a link to this login page to my library website making it very easy for the students to log in.
Kidblog promotes its product as being safe and simple. Their blogging environment is very private, with the blogs being only visible to the teacher and fellow classmates. Parents could view the blogs if given a special password by the teacher. The platform is simple, with limited backgrounds to choose from and no widgets or gadgets to add to the sidebars. They do, however, offer an authentic blogging feel with comments, RSS feeds, and blog rolls where their classmates' blogs are listed. You can also upload or insert images, video, audio or files. So Kidblog feels like the real thing, yet is so much easier for the students to navigate.

Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator, writes about giving her own children, and her students, the opportunity to create for a real audience using blogs and websites. She documents her own children's experience in this blog post, Why I Let My Kids Have Internet Presence. Through my own teaching, I have seen how much more engaged the students are when they are completing tasks that mean something to them or to someone else.

I hope that the grade 7 students that I will be working with will feel a connection to their classmates as they write in their blogs, just as I have felt connected to the cyberworld through my blog for this course. I am still finding my blogging voice, but I plan on continuing with this blog to further document my experiences with Web 2.0 tools in my teaching.

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