Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogs in the Classroom

I hope to use blogs in my classroom as a place for students to showcase their writing and respond to each other.  This year, I will be teaching fifth grade writing and library.  I would like the students to post their work and have other students respond to help build it and make it better.  Many times, students do not know how to peer-edit because they don't know what questions to ask.  

I do not think that the students will be sharing their work with the larger community.  I worry that inviting the community in will not keep them safe on the internet.  By keeping it as just their classmates, they will be able to benefit from collaborative writing without worrying about outside safety.  My students are too young to know how to appropriately communicate with people outside of the building.  Their blogging experience would be a stepping stone to allow them to communicate with others on future assignments.

Blogging allows the students to learn how to use the internet for more than just chatting and texting.  Many fifth graders have learned how to use it for their personal use.  In older grades and in their careers, they will need to know how to respond to someone professionally.  The students will need to learn proper etiquette for their writing.  

Posting their writing assignments on a blog also allows students to feel that their work is important.  They often have to write persuasive essays.  A blog would allow others to question their arguments and have a continuing discussion to improve their ideas.  It will show a record of their writing from one assignment to the next.  Students will be able to see their progress over the course of a school-year.


  1. I think that you are on to a pretty great idea! Having students create a record of their work can be a great opportunity to learn the power of re-writes and to show their own personal growth in writing.

    One potential pitfall may be the vulnerability of each student creating such a public account of their work. You mention that you could cut it down to just the class by manipulating the blog preferences I would guess, but I wonder if it might be better to further restrict each student's blog to just themselves and you. While this eliminates the intercommunication, which is fundamental to blogs, removing peer judgment may also mean making the situation less daunting for timid students. You could instead manually bring up specific blogs (anonymously or not) for the class to look at and critique.

    However, you know more about your students and if they are an encouraging bunch it could be great to let them explore and comment on their peers. This would be the ideal setting for reflection on writing style and form!

  2. This is a great response, and I love your idea about students watching their progress from the beginning of the year to the end. Nice touch! I wonder if it would be possible to find some sixth grade teachers who would carry on this tradition; it’s nice when someone can keep the ball rolling once you get it started. I also think your online journal is a great idea. Even at the 10th grade level, it’s amazing how much more seriously students take their writing assignments when they know they’ll be posting them online instead of just showing them to me. Publishing them only to other classmates is a good idea, too. It’s important that students’ early experiences be productive, fun, and safe. If you’re worried about anonymity, it’s easy enough for students to list a number or an appropriate pseudonym as their username when they complete the sign-up process. As long as YOU know who is who, and clearly lay down the rules, you should be fine, and so should they. Good Luck!

  3. The idea of keeping their blogs anonymous is great! I think as fifth graders, they need to learn proper etiquette, but they are still at the stage where they are easily embarrassed. I do want their first experience with blogs to be positive. This year, we have a great partnership with the middle school. I also taught the middle school teacher's daughter. Hopefully, she will be willing to continue to blog with these students.

  4. I agree with Nick also. I love this idea, but I know some kids are really apprehensive about showcasing their writing. However, if given the right motivation this would be a great was to get feedback and improve writing.. Great Blog :)