It started this week! Two sections of English had their first chance to use Kidblog in my class (the other two will next week). We began by selecting avatars and tweaking our usernames - no last names, correct capitalization, please! Who would have imagined that choosing an avatar could be such a time-consuming process? Because our first few forays in blogging will be facilitated by me, I introduced the kids to this week's online discussion: Is it acceptable for teachers to friend students on Facebook or other social media sites (Instagram, Vine, etc.)? Why or why not? Of course, many kids had an immediate and strong opinion, but I wanted to them to think. Before they were allowed to write any responses on the blog, they were expected to formulate their ideas, with at least two strong reasons, and share them with multiple partners. This sharing activity helped them to think logically and reasonably. Following the partner discussions, I reviewed my writing expectations: complete sentences; correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar; and no texting dialect. I also asked them to draft their response to the question in Pages, first. Once the drafts were ready, kids copied and pasted them in Kidblog and we were rolling. Students participated in a series of responses and replies as they engaged in a digital conversation. It may have been one of the quietest 30 minutes in my room this year!
I was thrilled with the day's activities, but I am even more excited about the future of blogging in my classroom. As kids become more proficient with the process, I plan to release control of the discussion. I want the students to see themselves as passionate individuals who have something to say to their peers. It is my hope, that by the end of the semester, kids will be writing their own posts and commenting on one another's ideas without relying on a topic suggestion from me. It will be even more powerful when the sixth graders start to hear from others around the country. I can't imagine a more motivating experience than writing for an authentic audience. Finally, those words will come alive as they inspire discussion and debate!