Three days ago my students were introduced to blogging, using the Kidblog app. It is one of my new favorite things and now theirs too!
I think their blogs and comments on each other blogs speak for themselves! Here is one of my favorites about Macarena's goal for 2014 and her classmates response. Macarena blogs "My goal is to be at school every day and on time."
Corene comments (below) "Wow, I ges you want to ern the i pad" ("Wow, I guess you want to earn the iPad." She is referencing an attendance incentive we have at school).
Ella then comments (below) "Maybe you should wake up early."
The students are really excited to read each other's posts and then comment on them. One of my student's parents came up to me and told me after school that she asked her son how the field trip was. He said, "Read the blog." She prompted again. He said "You can read my blog to find out." She read the blog and commented on his post.
I truly believe that the power of peers promotes strong academic improvement and achievement. Students want to perform for and like their peers. When I use the iPad or introduce new apps, my focus is on higher order thinking skills (Blooms) and peer interaction. I know this focus is paying off because academically students are making large (bigger than normal) gains per quarter.
Here is some information that I have learned while beginning kidblog. Hopefully this will help you too.
1. Currently, I must approve all comments that are made by students or adults. I can also choose to trash it, edit it or unapprove it if needed based on content. Right now, I want to make sure the students use the blog appropriately so having the control over this feature is really nice.
2. The teacher can edit the students' blogs. I do not change the content and I let the students write phonetically but I have added the topic of the blog if it is not written in. I may change the spelling of one or two words if the word is sounded out incorrectly and makes it difficult to read. I am not changing words because of spelling but rather for students to understand other's writing.
3. For children to read a child's blog they have to click on the title (topic) of the blog. This can be difficult if the screen is very small. I have taught them to increase the size of the screen and showed them how to click on the topic.
4. When giving access to the parents, I gave them instructions to write their username as child's mom or child's dad (i.e. Carrie's mom, Carrie's dad, Carrie's grandma, etc.). The username is what is seen by the students and if parents use their first names, the students will not know who is commenting on their blog. You have the control to edit their names if need be.
5. I have had students comment on the teacher's blog. For example, I asked the students a question from our social studies unit, "What traditions do you follow in your family?" Then the students responded to my blog through writing a comment. OR. I also have given the students the topic written on the board and they blog independently (not comment) on their blog. They retype the topic and begin their blog. Other students then comment on their blog. So there may be 28 blogs with the same title.