Blogging with Young Students
Blogging with young students
Kelly Jordan 0 1
0 Teacher, Leopold Primary School , Leopold, Vic
1 Kelly Jordan Twitter: @kellyjordan82
Last week one of my eight-year-old students week, with Kathleen and I taking turns to write the emailed me to ask for assistance with her posts. At this stage, our students' role is to comment personal blog. In a few days, my class is skyping on posts, as they need to build their writing skills with a third grade class in California, USA. On before they can write blog posts. Our posts generally any given day, step into my classroom and focus on what is happening in our classroom, you'll find students independently operating so we write about specific classroom activities, the interactive whiteboard, computers and school events, examples of student learning, iPod touches. A further use of technology and updates on projects etc. Our posts feature photos, one that's central to my students' learning is videos, slideshows and other embedded web 2.0 our class blog. Every day, my students and I applications where relevant. update our blog, view and comment on other class blogs, reflect on our learning and make How did I get started? connections between our lives and the rest of I have been teaching for eight years, and while I the world. Technology is a big part of my daily have always had a personal interest in technology classroom program and my students reap the and use technology in my everyday life, my use of rewards of being 21st century learners. I wouldn't technological devices in the classroom extended have it any other way; perhaps after reading only as far as basic programs on the computers. about my journey with blogging, you will see It all changed three years ago when Kathleen why. showed me the blog she had just set up for her class. Her excitement was contagious as she What is a blog? showed me the various features and I began to see The word blog is short for web log, a website that is the possibilities of what a class blog could offer my like an online journal. Blogs feature posts, which are students, their families and the community. I set up a regularly written, updated and displayed in reverse blog for my Prep class and gradually began learning chronological order for readers to view and, if they the basics, often in my own time. A few parents wish, comment on. Anyone can have a blog, there looked at the blog, a couple of people left comments, are many different free blogging platforms available the kids enjoyed seeing their photos posted on the online, and there are blogs about every topic you blog and I was starting to see how a blog could could possibly imagine! positively contribute to my students' lives. I team teach my class, 2KJ, with Kathleen Morris Fast forward three years and I have become and her class, 2KM. This year we have a combined hooked on blogging and have instilled a passion class blog, our blog address is http://2kmand2kj. for blogging into my Grade Two students. It is now global2.vic.edu.au. We publish about three posts per embedded in my daily program and my students
and I have
surprise me every day with the knowledge they
acquire through our blog. We have a global audience
across many countries and hundreds of visitors view
our blog each week.
How do you blog?
There are many free blogging platforms available
online. In Victoria, Global2 (formerly Global Student)
is an Edublog campus site which is supported by the
Victorian Education Department. Go to http://global2.
vic.edu.au to quickly and easily set up a blog. Once
a blog is set up, you can:
• choose a theme to personalise the appearance
of your blog.
• add pages to your blog. These contain static
information which readers may want to access
regularly (eg. timetables, student profiles,
websites to visit etc). They are usually found as
tabs across the top of the blog.
• write a welcome post, introducing your class
blog to the online world. Remember, each time
you write a post, it will appear at the top of the
blog. Any static information you want people to
access regularly should be written in a page.
It is essential to get parent permission for all of
your students before you begin the blogging journey.
A great part of blogging is that you can display
photos and student work but as the blog is a website
available for anyone to view, parental permission
is required. In my experience, all the parents have
been happy for their children to be involved. (Note:
you are able to control whether your blog comes up
in search engines such as Google. I believe that a
global audience is crucial to developing a successful
blog so I enable my blog to show up in online
There are many new skills to learn when you
begin your blogging journey. It is important to focus
on learning one thing at a time; otherwise, it can
seem overwhelming and unmanageable! When you
view established class blogs, you will see many
embedded web 2.0 applications, making it seem
daunting for beginners. Start slowly and build your
skills gradually. There is excellent online support at
The Edublogger website http://theedublogger.com/.
One of the key advantages of blogging is the
connections made through comments. Initially, it is
important to have students and their families viewing
the blog and leaving comments. This helps to attract
a larger, global audience. For student learning to truly
prosper, it is also important to make connections
with other class blogs. The interaction of thoughts,
ideas and opinions between teachers, students,
their families and, eventually a global audience, is a
powerful means of learning for students.
Each morning we check the comments we
received on our blog overnight. This often leads
to interesting discussions. For example, on a
recent post, one of our students was involved
in a commenting conversation with Mrs Yollis, a
third grade teacher in California, USA. In their
conversation, they discussed various places and
attractions in America and Australia. As a whole
class, we got a world map up on our interactive
whiteboard and pinpointed the states and attractions
in both countries. A simple look at our blog turned
into an interesting and in-depth lesson about
I have found that students really get into blogging
when they can learn interesting facts about the
lives of children in other schools. Collaborating
and connecting with others enhances the
blogging experience and makes it a more dynamic
experience. You can begin a blogging relationship
with other classes by simply leaving a comment on
their blog. They might then check out your blog and
comment, thus the friendship begins! An easy way to
‘meet’ other classes through blogging is to check out
the Edublogger list
What are the benefits of blogging?
It was during 2010, while working in a double
classroom with Kathleen Morris, that blogging really
took off for me, and I discovered the huge benefits it
could offer my students.
The five main benefits of blogging we have found
1. Improvement in students’ literacy skills: Blogging
is directly related to literacy. We begin our literacy
block every day by writing posts, reading and
replying to comments on our blog and learning
of a global
way to teach
from other classes by reading their blogs and
commenting. The presence of a global audience
makes blogging a very authentic way to teach
literacy. Through commenting on blogs, our students
have conversations with educators and students
from all over the world.
Observing the improvement in students’
writing skills is truly rewarding. We explicitly teach
about writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation,
proofreading, using paragraphs, vocabulary,
developing a ‘writing voice’ and more, through
commenting on blogs. The contrast in the students’
comments from the beginning of a year to the end
is incredible. Below is an example of one students’
writing development through commenting.
I just love being in your grade and cannot wait to
learn all about aboriginals love Bianca (7.02.10)
Thank you for your wonderful comment about your
years at school.
Yes, school has changed in some ways and in
some ways things have stayed the same. How
wonderful you were able to play the recorder.
What a messy job it would have been to clean the
duster. You would have been covered in chalk dust.
School is so wonderful because of the wonderful
use of computers and iPods and of course,
Good to hear from you!
Please visit our blog again,
2. Making global connections: As a young child,
my knowledge of geography was very limited. The
concept of ‘the world’ was quite foreign and abstract
to me. Now, through blogging, my students have a
great understanding of the continents, time zones,
countries, capital cities and how various cultures
live. Our class has several fantastic relationships
with classes in America, Canada, New Zealand,
China and of course, Australia whom we skype
regularly. The students readily and naturally make
numerous comparisons between their lives and the
lives of other children, thus bringing the world to life
and enriching their understanding of the world in
which we live.
3. Cyber safety: Our blog gives us an authentic
context in which to learn about cyber safety.
Students learn the rules of netiquette and
appropriate online behaviour including the
importance of not revealing personal information in
4. Parent involvement: Many of my parents
subscribe to the blog (an email alert is sent
whenever a new post is published) and comment
regularly. Blogging allows parents, especially
working parents, who may otherwise feel removed
from their child’s schooling, to observe what is
happening and interact with the classroom. The
door of the classroom is now truly open; parents and
family members love it.
5. Students’ technology skills: I take every
opportunity to explicitly teach skills in ICT that
will help students become 21st century learners.
Specific skills students develop include typing,
navigating blogs and websites, troubleshooting,
using keyboard shortcuts, following web links,
searching on Google, and using the help function
in programs and websites. Last year I helped
several students set up personal blogs. I taught
them the basic skills to initially set up and navigate
their blogs. They learned many new blogging skills
independently and the quality of their blog posts
was amazing. These particular students learnt
how to use a variety of web 2.0 tools and attracted
global audiences. Some of these students were
even nominated in the 2010 Edublogs Awards.
Now, these same students are teaching their new
teachers how to blog!
Once you have an established class blog and have
made strong connections with other classes, you
may wish to begin getting involved in global projects
that further enhance learning. Kathleen and I, along
with our classes, have been involved in several very
successful global projects over the past 18 months.
We are currently involved in two global projects.
1. Flat Stanley: After reading the book Flat
Stanley (by Jeff Brown), we are collaborating
with a class in New Zealand. Each student
made their own ‘flat person’. The two classes
then exchanged ‘flat people’. Now, our
students each have a flat person to look after
and are writing diaries to document what
the NZ flat people are getting up to here in
Australia. Soon the flat people and the diaries
will be once more exchanged.
2. The Postcard Project: Over forty classes
worldwide have signed up to a postcard
exchange project developed by New Zealand
teacher, Sarah Leakey. The postcards, which
describe each student’s town, are a wonderful
way for students to learn about geography
and descriptive writing. Read more about the
Postcard Project here: http://leakeysblog.
The highlight of our global project experience
occurred last year. We wanted to use our blog to do
something that would make a difference so Kathleen
created the Ugandan Global Project. Our class
joined forces with a few of our blogging buddies in
America and China to raise money for a primary
school in Uganda by holding a run / walk. We raised
a total of $20,000, which was a phenomenal effort.
(The school in Uganda is still amazed and grateful
for what we achieved.) Students involved in the
project learnt about life in a third world country, how
they can contribute to change, and the meaning of
social conscience. We formed a new blog for the
where each class published posts about the project,
and about life in their own countries.
The global projects we have been involved in
have been independently organised; however, there
are online organisations such as http://www.iearn.
org.au/, http://www.epals.com/ and http://www.
ozprojects.edu.au/ that have ideas for projects and
classes you can be matched up with. It’s simple to
sign up and get involved.
My top tips for class blogging
• Start slowly—Focus on learning one or two
new blogging skills each week.
• Make global connections—Student learning is
so much more meaningful and authentic when
you interact with a global audience.
• Reply to comments—It is essential that
you / your students reply to comments on your
blog posts so that you have conversations.
This is where the learning really comes to life.
• Learn online—Get involved in blogging by
reading other class blogs, signing up to
Twitter to learn from other teachers who blog,
participating in online PD sessions, or doing
your own research.
In my eight years of teaching, nothing has been as
meaningful, authentic, powerful and enjoyable for my
students and I, as blogging. Blogging has effectively
flattened the classroom walls and opened up my
classroom to the world, providing my students with
endless opportunities to share, create, collaborate
and connect with others. Joining the blogging world
with my students has been such a rich and diverse
experience. I look forward to seeing what else we
can learn and achieve together. TEACH
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