Students write better when the audience is larger than the teacher. I truly came to realize this when students shared Google Documents with one another on their 1:1 devices. They had to proofread each others’ work and leave comments, and this motivated many of my students to put extra effort into their punctuation and grammar.
Blogging is the ultimate way for anyone to share thoughts. Students are empowered when they’re given a writing prompt and blogging platform on which to craft their ideas into words.
The problem is that when you’re writing on the internet, you’re writing to everyone. Over the years I’ve written for Rise and Converge, I’ve received hundreds if not thousands of spam messages that were blocked by WordPress–and possibly 15-20 comments that slipped through that I had to block. We have to protect out students physically and emotionally from many different threats that emerge from the internet. Specifically, when we open up our students to online criticism, we have to make sure they know how to handle it.
That’s why Kidblog is such a great tool for students who are in the 4th-8th grade range. The Kidblog interface for the control panel from which students write and comment is very similar to WordPress, so kids can get a true blogging experience. You must be signed in as a teacher, parent, or student to read the blogs, so there’s a lot of protection. Students can still read every post that’s written within their group or class, and teachers must approve every comment.
Kidblog is the perfect place to start young kids with blogging. They’re writing posts that are published on the internet, but it’s safe. Students learn good digital citizenship because the teacher has control over the platform, which has greatly helped me teach the kids how to interact productively online–especially when they comment on each other’s work.
So as it stand right now, I’d say that elementary to 8th grade students should use Kidblog, and 9th to 12th grade students may be given the responsibility of publishing somewhere like WordPress (based upon the school site’s professional opinion).
If you have any questions about students blogging, feel free to reach me on Twitter: @SJohnsonEDU
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