Boosting Student Blogs
My kids started the year off tapping into the blogging world but the blog posts weren’t representative of their writing in class. Their in class personal narratives, research reports, and even poems were rich, vibrant, and showed incredible stamina and volume. None of that existed in their blogs. To top it off, the comments were bare and boring. This alerted me to three concerns:
1. I need to do more in teaching them the genre of blogging.
2. The transfer is not there; these writing skills are not at an independent level yet.
3. Our blogs aren’t attracting attention. Our voices aren’t being heard!
The New Plan: Blogs are like Restaurants
I really wanted them to develop their own identity as writers so I didn’t want to tell them what to write on their blogs. However, blogs are like restaurants. We wouldn’t go to a restaurant that would, without any notice, serve Mexican food one day and then Chinese on the next. Instead, every restaurant specializes in a type of cooking and we go to it when we’re craving that type of food. Blogs need a particular purpose too such as food, technology, fashion, etc… It creates loyal “customers” and bloggers become known as the expert in that area. I started teaching my students about choosing a specialty for their blog. We asked our classmates who knew a lot about us, drew identity maps, and made lists to help us think of what our specialty could be.
Using Mentor Texts
These personalized ideas made blogging much more exciting for my students but we still weren’t sure how to write about it. What does a blog post sound like and look like? The best way to teach them about it was to show them real blogs. For my bloggers who wanted to write reader reviews, we used student examples from Katie Muhtaris‘s (@literacyspark) class blog like this one: reader review. For others depending on their specialty, I showed them a real blogs in those fields. Here are a couple:
We also looked at our own blog posts as well as posts from other classes to determine what makes a blog post a “cool” blog post and a “not-so-cool” blog post. They came up with the names and then made a chart together on what this meant. It’s important to pause and have students set the bar for blogging so that students become self-aware of what they’re posting to the public.
Student Blogs: Grand Opening!
These fifth grade blogs are now beginning to blow my mind. One student said to me this week: “I’m really starting to like this blog thing. I just have too many ideas and can’t post them fast enough!” Here are some posts from my rockstar bloggers! Please feel free to leave a comment for them. 🙂
- Fashion/Clothing KidBlog – Jeans vs. Jeggings (Graphics were designed with photo collage apps. I didn’t teach her this!)
- Ballet KidBlog – Posts after posts about ballet!
- DIY Craft KidBlog – How to Make a Duct Tape Flower Pen
- Cooking KidBlog – Peanut Butter Balls
- Reader Reviews KidBlog – Two Good Book Reviews
Follow our class on Twitter @HaleNetwork5th or our class blog at Kidblog.org/halenetwork5th