BLOGGING- AN EXCELLENT FIT FOR MY CLASSROOMAfter spending all of the time making a "homemade" spiral notebook version of the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Journal, I can't seem to use it efficiently. Not all of my assignments fit neatly into their categories and collecting them for teacher response is a nightmare. Being a proponent of using technology in the classroom, I wanted a blog set up for reading response writing. As a classroom blogging about weather for three years on Edublogs, I knew that site was not suited to my needs for guided reading. Last fall, I stumbled upon another blogging source that is a perfect fit - Kidblog.org. Designed by teachers for teachers, "Kidblog meets the need for a safe and simple blogging platform suitable for elementary and middle school students. Most importantly, Kidblog allows teachers to monitor and control all publishing activity within the classroom blogging community." http://kidblog.org/about.php
My fourth grade students took to blogging like the proverbial ducks to water. We began using it for response to reading - the blog allows me to create groups and it was/is super easy to set up. I post my reading assignment and the students respond on their own blog. Not only can I make comments to them, but periodically students create postings to which other group members respond. My job became easier as I could respond anytime, anywhere without lugging 5-8 notebooks home. But the best thing about it was that students, initially not writing much in their spiral notebooks, began to write twice as much on their blog.
What began as a time-saver for me became a way of writing in my classroom. Seeing the enthusiasm for writing and the ease of response, I expanded my assignments to include monthly projects and writer's workshop. Kidblog saves versions so my evaluation for revision and editing became better. I have all of the writing in one place and I can look at various assignments to see if the generalization of skills from teacher-directed to student-initiated is happening. Having already responded in writing to projects and pieces from writer's workshop, conferencing goes faster and better too.
I haven't organized the site the best way I can. Students forget where to post their work and my assignments need to make that clearer in the future. It still takes me a lot of time to respond to their writing, as well as screen comments they make to other writers, but I can do it faster in shorter periods of time, whenever it is convenient. I hope you decide to check out Kidblog.org and give it a try.