It seems like every time I sit down to work on my assignment for my Cool Tools project and end up spending 1-2 hours on Kidblog instead. Tonight was no exception, so I’m just going to write about my experiences blogging with my students for now.
It’s late (for me) and I’ve spent at least 90 minutes reading, approving, commenting. Therefore, this post will be what my daughter calls “word vomit.” My thoughts as they flow. I’ll edit later.
Two years ago I began using Kidblog with my third graders. They enjoyed writing and often asked for time to blog, so I considered it a success. Last year my school experimented with flexible scheduling so I didn’t see my 3-6 grades on a regular basis. I did set up Kidblog accounts for several teachers, but the use was much more sporadic, and the classroom teachers were responsible for the majority of monitoring.
This year, I am seeing grades 3-6 every other week and I set up accounts for all of my grade 3-5 students. I give occasional assignments, but several of them have really taken off with it and I am wondering what I have gotten myself into. There are fresh posts and comments almost every day. I have it set up so that comments have to be approved before they appear so I am committed to checking their comments a minimum of once each day, and I also feel that it’s important to comment on as many of their posts as I can.
I am pretty relaxed in my standards as far as what they write about. Last year I had a group of girls who spent a lot of time writing about their favorite band. Some (a lot) of the posts were silly, but they were writing! And reading each other’s writing. One of them even got creative and wrote comments as if she were one of the band members.
Since I have such a limited amount of time with them, I don’t focus much (at all) on mechanics. We talk about grammar rules and I do ask them to begin sentences with capital letters and end them periods, but they don’t always listen. I’ve taught them how to use the spell check feature, which they think is cool when they use it, but they mostly forget about it.
This year I cracked down on the use of text slang and exaggerated words. (Neither allowed) I was tired of seeing things like, “Cooooooooooolllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and, while I don’t force the issue with spelling, I want them to at least attempt to spell real words correctly, so they have to write out y-o-u.
The kids are fascinated by the map showing visitor stats, so I sent my class link to LM_NET and asked members to just click on a link or two to light up the map. I sometimes use twitter in an attempt to get comments from people outside of school. I really want the kids to see that their writing has a wide audience, so I’m not above begging. (If you’ve read this far, why not take another couple of minutes to give a kid a thrill by reading a post or two? Or at least click and add to our visitor stats?)
Thanks to the Cool Tools project, I just connected with another librarian and we’ll be connecting our students, which my kids have been begging for. I can’t wait to see how this develops with the addition of partners from another school!