Traditional Blogs allows for connections between individuals within a classroom and the world. Most students are unaware of the large size of the audience who has access to a traditional blog. . Without taking onerous precautions it is easy for personal information about a student to reach the wrong hands. Many safety conscious teachers aware of the dangers will not engage in this form of technology. Other teachers will often use student pseudonyms, initials, or just first names to allow for anonymity of young students. Some bloggers feel this is against the nature of blogging as making their writing public is part of the appeal and responsibility of blogging. The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ is seriously curtailed when strict restrictions are placed on blogging. However, just like teaching children to safely navigate across a busy street, using a blog like Kidblog allows for the scaffolding of students to publish in a controlled blogging environment so they are ready to participate in a real world environment of a traditional blog site.
- Free, no ads.
- Simple, uncluttered, easy to use interface.
- private by default
- Teachers have administrative control over all student blogs and student accounts.
- Your students’ blogs are private by default – viewable only by classmates and the teacher.
- For “semi-public” blogs, set up guest (e.g. parent) accounts that require a password to view students’ posts/comments.
- Comment privacy settings block unsolicited comments from outside sources.
- Kidblog does not collect any personal information from teachers or students.
- Does not require student e-mail accounts.
- provides technical support for teachers with FAQs and a help ticket system
- sometimes slow to use when user numbers are high
What is Kidblog and why should I use it in my classroom - Youtube video
Kidblog was created pre 2008 by Matt Hardy, an Eden Prairie elementary school teacher and computer science degree major. Hardy to wanted manage his paper workflow and create a safe platform to engage his 3rd graders in creating their own blogs. It began in beta in 2008, and had its' first major release in January of 2010. Since then Kidblog has grown to 2.8 million users in almost every country in the world. Kidblog now boasts to being the largest education blogging platform in the world. Kidblog is based upon a highly customized installation of WordPress MU. Using the stability, security, and software of WordPress, while integrating our own proprietary features. Kidblog is not a simply a “plugin.” The service is based on multiple modifications to the WordPress core, providing native support for unique features.
Posting to Kidblog
Follow these simple directions to get you started: Step 1: Create an account on http://kidblog.org and familiarize yourself with the site Step 2: Set up class and student accounts Step 3: Create a post with examples and directions for student posts Step 4: Teach students a bit about blogs and discuss school internet policy and expectations for blogging Step 5: Give students user id’s and passwords and let them get started. Step 6: Schedule a time for a second post.
Using Kidblog in the Classroom
First and foremost educational blogging is used to encourage student reading and writing. To maximize student engagement initially, pose a thought-provoking question that would normally be discussed in a face-to-face classroom and direct students to post their responses on their individual blogs. Then ask students to respond to each other's entries. Instructor can post responses too but should encourage collaborative responses between students. When everybody is comfortable with the medium, expand contributions in a large or small way. The following is a partial list of how Kidblog could be used in the elementary classroom.
- Create book reviews
- Respond to book reviews
- Post podcasts
- Class discussion on a specific topic
- Students keep a public journal based on a teacher driven topic or their own topic
- Students find mistakes on a teacher’s blog entry and revise a paragraph to make it better. Teacher starts a story (can be from an actual book, made up, or a photo) and then writes a blog entry instead of a paper response. Students finish the story
- Students create a tagxedo or wordle that describe themselves and post
- Teacher posts a paragraph in third person and then students must translate to first person or vice versa.
- Students create blog entries teaching a science concept
- Students upload video to showcase a science lesson or demonstration
- Research and share information about a famous scientist
- Answer science questions posted by teacher
- Look at pictures uploaded on a science topic and respond
- Post podcasts of current events from CBC or Radiolab
- Students interview a family member about a time in history.
- Locate information on a map of a country of interest.
- Write posts to classmates in French
- Respond to teacher questions in French
- Post slide shows teaching vocabulary using tools like slide share or photopeach
- Create a French comic strip on a site like http://makebeliefscomix.com and post
- Have students act out a children's story (Ie Goldilocks and the Three Bears) in french. Video it and post it to Kidblog
- Post a problem of the day and have students work together to solve it
- Have a designated 'help area' where students help those who are having difficulties with certain math topics
- Have students define math vocabulary and share
- Show examples of real world applications to math topics. Ask student to post his or her own
- Get student to film and post their own gymnastics or dance routines
- Get students to find latest sports news about a sport they are currently playing in gym and post in on their blog
- Keep a list of the current classroom job board
- Keep a list of current, past and possible future seating charts
- Keep a class birthday list
- Help students stay informed about all class/school events (homework, field trips, fundraisers...)
Teaching Students Good Digital Citizenship
In addition to protecting identity, the elementary teacher also has the responsibility to ensure students take precautions when publishing work online. Precautions like avoiding detailed personalized profiles, not including photos of individuals and keeping published material appropriate. This list may be used by instructors in Kidblog and regular blogsites to ensure a good standard of digital responsibility is ensured. Blogging Terms and Conditions
- Students using blogs are expected to act safely by keeping personal information out of their posts. You agree to not post or give out your family name, password, user name, email address, home address, school name, city, country or other information that could help someone locate or contact you in person. You may share your interests, ideas and preferences.
- Students using blogs agree not to share their user name or password with anyone besides their teachers and parents. You agree to never log in as another student.
- Students using blogs are expected to treat blogspaces as classroom spaces. Speech that is inappropriate for class is not appropriate for your blog. While we encourage you to engage in debate and conversation with other bloggers, we also expect that you will conduct yourself in a manner reflective of a representative of this school.
- Student blogs are to be a forum for student expression. However, they are first and foremost a tool for learning, and as such will sometimes be constrained by the various requirements and rules of classroom teachers. Students are welcome to post on any school-appropriate subject.
- Students blogs are to be a vehicle for sharing student writing with real audiences. Most visitors to your blog who leave comments will leave respectful, helpful messages. If you receive a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable or is not respectful, tell your teacher right away. Do not respond to the comment.
- Students using blogs take good care of the computers by not downloading or installing any software without permission, and not clicking on ads or competitions.
Fortunately, the design of Kidblog allows for teachers to view all posts before publication is allowed.
When blogs are introduced for the first time there is often a rush of enthusiasm for this innovative new activity and lots of participation. Imperatore, (2009) has observed that at this point the quantity and the quality of the posts goes down. She suggests to allow for students to spend time reading blogs, not just their own but ones in the broader world. 'By first focusing on the reading and responding to others we help students to 'listen' in the blogosphere. Just like in real conversations listening before speaking is a good skill.' (2009) It is also important for teacher s to remember to introduce relevant, real world assignments, encourage collaboration and responsiveness to others' posts and to maintain a supportive and enthusiastic presence which is not overbearing.
Though kidblog is a site that allows for practice of blogging in a safe, controlled environment, it is the hope that as students mature and have been educated to be good ’netizens’ they will evolve beyond Kidblog to publish their work in an open context. The benefits of open publishing on a blog is believed to be an important part of helping students see themselves as connected, confident, with the conviction that their voices need to be heard. The power of an authentic world wide audience develops literacy skills in all students and connecting with other digital age learners creates a population of life-long-learners (Charles, Burt, Williams, 2010/2011).
Though blogging can allow for an efficiency of information delivery it also allows for a structured form of metacognition . Students have time to reflect or think about their thinking before they post. This is in contrast with the instant response required in a regular classroom environment (Richardson, 2003).
Blogging also helps students teach each other content. Polong (2005) did a study where she asked her students to blog the strategies they used to discover the meaning of words they didn’t know. The safe environment of the blog allowed students to view others' strategies without having to ask each other . The result was an overall higher class understanding of the vocabulary. Blogging has the potential to provide a space for collaborative, learner centred environments. Driscoll (2005) states that “constructivists emphasize collaboration as a critical feature in the learning environment“ (p. 396). Collaboration does not mean only that learners work together in groups. Collaboration is a very central activity around which learning emerges. Vygotsky (as cited in Davydov, 1995, p. 17) identifies collaboration between learner and teacher, as well as between learners themselves, as the social interaction that is crucial for individual learning. This constructivist approach is in line with the rapid changes of the 21st century classroom.
Most of information we are exposed to today is in the form of audio or video or web medium, the education system traditionally has eschewed the video, audio and web mediums, or if they have used them it has been sparingly. If educators are going to lead in the 21 century, we need to adapt to teach literacy in these mediums. University, High school and Elementary education must be expanded to include this new literacy. Wilson (nd) suggests that that media literacy is an opportunity “for preparing students for their roles as citizens and consumers, and for effective participation in democratic discourse" Presently, the established culture is lagging behind the younger generation in learning how to use these tools. Not only is it important to teach this new literacy, but it is important to learn it too. Blogs are one of the forms of this new literacy that we must teach our students. The design of Kidblog is potentially more accessible and removes even more barriers that may put off new users.
- Charles,M., Burt,D., Williams,M. Lessons from New Zealand; Learning & Leading with Technology | December/January 2010–11 retrieved Feb 28, 2013 from http://milunesco.unaoc.org
- Davydov, V. V. (1995). The influence of L. S. Vygotsky on education theory, research, and practice. Educational Researcher, 24, 12-21. retrieved March3, 2013 from http://vigotski.net/vigotskieduc.pdf
- Driscoll, M.P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (pp. 384-407; Ch. 11 – Constructivism). Toronto, On; Pearson retrieved March 1, 2013 from http://creatingconstructivism.wikispaces.com/Resources
- Harper, Vernon B. Jr, Oct 2005 The New Student-teacher channel T.H.E. Journal", v33 n3 p30-32 retrieved March 2, 2013 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=EJ762435
- Imperatore, Catherine Techniques: Connecting Education & Careers; Mar2009, Vol. 84 Issue 3, p30-31 retrieved March 3rd, 2013 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=EJ762435
- Media and Information Literacy: Pedagogy and Possibilities Carolyn Wilson DOI: 10.3916/C39-2012-02-01
- Poling, C. (2005). Blog on: Building communication and collaboration among staff and students. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(6), 12-15.retrieved March 1, 2013 from http://www.dkrug.com/csed/csed_readings/
- Richardson, W. (2003). Web logs in the English classroom:More than just chat. English Joumal, 93(1),39-43.http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3650568
- Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, p. 133retrieved March 3, 2013 from http://www.weteachwelearn.org/2010/07/blogs-wikis-podcasts-and-other-powerful-web-tools-for-classrooms/
- Kidblog http://kidblog.org
- Gaggle http://gaggle.net
- 21Classes www.21classes.com
- See blog examples at www.ptengland.