Why I Blog With my Elementary Students

BloggingEvery student has a passion in one of the core subject areas taught in school. For me, my passion was always math and social studies. For others, it is language arts,such as reading and writing. Not all students will like writing at first or feel confident with writing. However, in writing, every student has the opportunity to be successful given they are presented with a topic or genre that interests them. A digital medium to communicate ideas through writing is blogging, also known as edublogging (educational blogging). Blogging is currently being used with secondary and higher education students. Research has proven that students have much to gain from blogging for educational purposes. Key benefits of blogging include collaborative learning, increased engagement, feedback from a global audience, reflective thinking, improved writing, and development of technology skills.

More specifically:

  • Students benefit from working with their peers through sharing and discussing knowledge rather than working in isolation, which can be the case with paper journaling (Angelaina & Jimouianis, 2012; Chen, Liu, Shih, Wu, & Yuan, 2011; Halic, Lee, Paulus, & Spence, 2010; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; Wang & Hsua, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Blogging tools such as the commenting feature provide additional opportunities for student and teacher feedback (Deng & Yuen, 2009; Fessakis, Tatsis, & Dimitracopoulou, 2008; Manfra & Lee, 2012).
  • Working with an authentic audience motivates students to improve their writing, as students want their work to be understood and read (Fessakis et al., 2008; Howard, 2011; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; McGrail & Davis, 2011).
  • Students have opportunities for questioning texts and thinking critically about subject matter when blogging activities are designed to respond in this manner (Arena, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Students are more engaged with blogging than with writing traditional papers (Armstrong & Retterer, 2008; Ellison & Wu, 2008; Frye, Trathen & Koppenhaver, 2010).
  • The incorporation of visual literacy is often introduced when blogging (Arena, 2008; Drexler, Dawson, & Ferdig, 2007; Richardson, 2010). Students learn how to select media, which is appropriate for their content such as images, videos and sounds.

With the proper instructional design, teachers can incorporate blogging into their classroom, even with elementary students. These four key elements should be considered when designing instruction:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.11.12 PM

Even though elementary students may require some support with technical skills, they may also benefit and enjoy student blogging. These are some recommendations on how to blog with younger students:

  • Select a blogging platform, which provides secure access to the site and a limited number of tools.
  • Discuss digital citizenship and blogging expectations to ensure a positive blogging experience for students.
  • Model literacy activities through the use of sample blog posts and provide a rubric to outline blogging requirements.
  • Select activities that meet curriculum outcomes and are relevant to student skills and interests.
  • Allow students to communicate ideas through written or audio blog posts with or without supporting media (photos, animation, videos, hyperlinks) in order to personalize learning.
  • Provide weekly in-class time for blogging activities, such as during computer sessions, centers or during literacy activities. Offer opportunities to blog at home for those students who wish to blog about topics of their choice.
  • Provide ongoing instructional support, guidance and feedback to ensure students are able to achieve bloggging outcomes.
  • Take advantage of the commenting feature as a way to praise and motivate students to continue discussing blog topics.
  • Involve students throughout the blogging process to ensure they are engaged during blogging activities and address any technical or scholarly issues.
  • Encourage students to peer mentor each other to enable mastery and confidence of skills

As an elementary educator, consider blogging activities the next time you need to instruct writing to your students. Your students may becoming even more engaged and interested in the topics you are learning and some will even want to write on the blog during their free time.

Click on this attached Blog Handout for details from this blog


References:

Angelaina, S., & Jimoyiannis, A. (2012). Analysing students’ engagement and learning presence in an educational blog community. Educational Media International, 49(3), 183-200. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2012.738012

Arena, C. (2008). Blogging in the language classroom: It doesn’t “simply happen.” TESL-EJ, 11(4), 1-6. Retrieved from http://tesl-ej.org/ej44/a3.html

Armstrong, K., & Retterer, O. (2008). Blogging as L2 writing: A case study. AACE Journal, 16(3), 233-251.

Chen, Y. L., Liu, E. Z., Shih, R. C., Wu, C. T., & Yuan, S. M. (2011). Use of peer feedback to enhance elementary students’ writing through blogging. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), E1-E4. doi:10.1111/j.14678535.2010.01139.x

Deng, L. & Yuen, A. H. K. (2009). Blogs in higher education: Implementation and issues. TechTrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 53(3), 95-98.

Drexler, W., Dawson, K., & Ferdig, R. E. (2007). Collaborative blogging as a means to develop elementary expository writing skills. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 6, 140-160.

Ellison, N., & Wu, Y. (2008). Blogging in the classroom: A preliminary exploration of student attitudes and impact on comprehension. Journal of Educational multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(1), 99-122.

Fessakis, G., Tatsis, K., & Dimitracopoulou, A. (2008). Supporting “learning by design” activities using group blogs. Educational Technology & Society, 11(4), 199-212.

Frye, E. M., Trathen, W., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2010). Internet workshop and blog publishing: Meeting student (and teacher) learning needs to achieve best practice in the twenty-first-century social studies classroom. Social Studies, 101(2), 46-53. doi:10.1080/00377990903284070

Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet And Higher Education, 13(4), 206-213. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.04.001

Howard, M. (2011). Not an unfeasible “extra”. Science And Children, 49(4), 32-35.

MacBride, R., & Luehmann, A. (2008). Capitalizing on emerging technologies: A case study of classroom blogging. School Science And Mathematics, 108(5), 173-18.

Manfra, M., & Lee, J. K. (2012). “You have to know the past to (blog) the present”: Using an educational blog to engage students in U.S. history. Computers In The Schools, 29(1-2), 118-134. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2012.656543

McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing. Journal Of Research In Childhood Education, 25(4), 415-437. doi:10.1080/02568543.2011.605205

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Wang, S., & Hsua, H. (2008). Reflections on using blogs to expand in-class discussion. Techtrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 52(3), 81-85.

Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661. doi:10.1598/RT.62.8.3

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