Blog Definition: a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites (Dictionary.com)
If you are not a blogger yourself or have never tried blogging, you may feel a little overwhelmed at the idea of introducing it to your own children or students. However, those who have tried it report that children love to blog and offering children the opportunity to blog may help in developing a range of skills and competencies beyond the obvious literacy skills. With a choice of websites offering different approaches and simple set up, getting your students blogging does not have to be such a daunting prospect.
Why get children blogging?
So what might be the benefits of encouraging your children or students to blog and how do you go about starting?
Like with any skill the more we practice the better we become and therefore the most obvious benefit to students of blogging is to improve their writing skills. Beyond this, when blogging, children are writing for a real life audience and if writing about things that they have an interest in or are passionate about then blogging can give them meaningful and purposeful reasons to write and help them practice real life communications skills. Knowing that a wider audience will be reading their work and they have an opportunity to make an impact in the world is extremely empowering leading to increased focus and effort and a greater sense of achievement. Michael Rosen believes that:
“when writing has a purpose, the writer discovers all kinds of important stuff to do with what to write, why write, how write and much more…”
Writing is moved to a new level and has a purpose. Suddenly children have a reason and motivation for writing and for striving to do their very best work.
Delving deeper into subjects they are already familiar with or tackling topics that are quite new, writing for a blog allows children to develop their research and critical thinking skills. Working together on a blog is an affective avenue for children to build relationships as they learn to collaborate, solve problems together and in the process learn from one another.
Today’s children need to learn how to be good digital citizens if they are to succeed and flourish in an increasingly digital world. Blogging is a great way to for children to learn and practice the elements of good digital citizenship that will set them up for life. Thinking about the impact their work may have on the wider world as well as learning to be thoughtful and courteous when responding to each other’s work are all important skills that children will need to master for a changing world in which so much social and work related interaction takes place online. Blogging allows children to get into regular practice with such skills from an early age.
When educator Maria Rodriquez took the plunge and tried it in her classroom she found the results nothing short of amazing. She reports that:
“We went from a classroom to a community, from students to guides, from rule followers to leaders… independent problem solvers, collaborators, creators, innovators and explorers…”
Maria gives her top 10 tips for getting started with blogging here.
Ready to get started?
If you’d like to give blogging a try with your children or students, here are some of the best places to get started:
WordPress’s popular education blogging site lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts.
Used in over 70 countries Kidblog provides teachers with tools to safely publish student writing. Teachers can monitor all activity within a community of authors.
PrimaryBlogger is the most popular publishing platform used by schools in the UK and is exclusive to education only. Thanks to its social network links through Twitter and Facebook, there is an automatic wider audience. A great place to get started with blogging for your students.
The brainchild of “Deputy Mitchell” Quadblogging offers a unique approach to blogging for classrooms. It involves each registered class being matched with a “quad” of 3 other classes. As a group of four, each week, a different class will be the ‘focus class’ allowing the other three classes to visit and comment on the focus class blog. Over a cycle of 4 weeks, each class has their week as the ‘focus class’.
Another interesting twist on the standard blog, the aim of the 100 word challenge is to encourage creative writing. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. An adult volunteer from a team will then leave a comment on the work and participants are encouraged to read and comment on each other’s work.
A site for children who blog and their parents to gain information, inspiration and support. It was founded by a blogging mum, with help from her two blogging children. With lots of ideas and advice for blogging kids, teachers should also find inspiration here.
If you have tried blogging with children, it would be great to hear of your experiences, please comment below and share your tips, resources and suggestions.