Wondering if you should get your kids blogging? Let me help you out there: you should. There are a gazillion benefits to kid blogging. I’ve seen them myself in the 11 years I was in the classroom. You’d be surprised how students who can’t stand writing will suddenly take to it when you get them started with their own kid’s blog.
There’s something about the freedom and excitement of owning your own blog, and being able to speak to the world (and your peers) without feeling like you’re being graded.
Yes, it’s a great thing to do in your classroom and your students are sure to love it. But if you’re like I was before I implemented kid blogging in my class, it might seem like a difficult undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s all lined out for you here in this completely free guide to kid blogging.
7 Reasons Why You Should Encourage Kid Blogging
First of all, let’s get to the “why” of kid blogging. There are a ton of reasons why your kids need to be blogging:
- It gives them an authentic way to develop their voice.
- Blogging for educational purposes helps them develop a positive digital footprint.
- It’s a great way to get peer feedback.
- Most students find it fun, making writing less of a chore.
- It’s a skill they can use as they get older, even in their careers.
- It helps them learn to deal with criticism and challenge their thinking.
- It fosters language and communication skills.
Preparing for Kid Blogging in Your Classroom
Like anything else in the classroom, kid blogging requires a bit of preparation. The whole “fail to plan, plan to fail” idea rings true here. So before you begin, you need to make sure that you set clear expectations.
These expectations should cover:
- Digital citizenship
- Behavioral expectations
- Scope of subject matter for blogs
- Commenting expectations
- Blog post outline
You also need to make sure your kids understand what a blog is. In this age of social media and texting, you’re going to have to spend some time making sure your students understand that blogging requires more depth than these other forms of online communication.
Easy-to-Follow Kids Blog Post Outline
One thing I quickly learned is that the average student needs a template to guide their blogging. Sure some students will prove to be naturals, but in general, you need some guidelines or else you’ll either get really short posts with no meat, or you’ll get long, rambling posts that don’t really make a point.
While your kid blogging template will vary depending on what subject you have your students blogging on, here’s a generic template that can help get you started. Feel free to change it up to fit your specific needs.
- Featured image–Multimedia helps enhance a blog post. Beginning the blog with a good image can legitimize a blog post, and make the reader actually want to read.
- Introduction–Every blog post should have an introduction that does a couple of things. First of all, it should provide somewhat of a summary of the post itself. This should include main information, such as the title of the book that was read if you’re writing for reading response. The intro should also provide some sort of hook to get the reader’s interest.
- Body with a bullet or numbered list–Blogging is a bit different than paper writing. Students need to understand that people online read differently. We tend to skim, so it’s important to make your content skimmable. One of the easiest ways to do this is use lists, similar to the one you’re reading now. This also helps students break their thinking down into major points.
- Conclusion–Like any good piece of writing, the conclusion needs to tie it all together and answer “so what?”
- Call to action–Blogging should bring about conversation. And the easiest way to do that is to ask for it. So at the end of each blog post, students should close with a question designed to get other students to respond.
Guide to the Comments Section for Kids Blogging
When it comes to managing student blogs, I’ve found that the comments are the most difficult part. Which is interesting, because it tends to be the students’ favorite part of kid blogging. What’s not fun about chatting back and forth at the bottom of a blog post?
But therein lies the difficulty. Students like to treat commenting as texting. As a result left unmanaged, the comments section can become unruly and silly. That said, you have to make sure to set the tone for comments immediately. What does that mean?
- Model, model, model–You want comments that add value and spark conversation that leads to real thinking? Model it by commenting often.
- Focus–Students need to be very clear that comments should be focused on the actual blog post. It’s not a place to talk about their weekend or what they saw on TV…unless it makes a connection to the post.
- Positivity–My first time to use kid blogging in class, the comments section quickly turned into a place to correct each other’s mistakes with misspelled or misused words. Make sure students understand that’s not their place. Instead, all comments should focus on the positives, not making corrections. Remember, you want to start discussion that fosters real thinking.
How Can You Use Kid Blogging in the Classroom?
Reading this and wondering how in the world kid blogging could work with your classroom? Here are a few common ways to use kid blogging for various subject areas:
- Reading response–Have students write their thinking on their books, and have students respond and ask questions.
- Creative writing–Probably the most obvious one. Have students share their stories, and use the comments to ask questions about their pieces.
- Journaling–Maybe you want your writers to keep a daily journal? Blogs are made for this.
- Art interpretation–Students can attach pictures of artwork and then blog about their interpretations.
- Math lesson explanation–One of the best ways to learn a concept is to explain it. Use blogs for students to explain the concept learned and to provide examples.
- Science research articles–Students can use blogs to provide research about specific subject matter. For example, if you’re studying the solar system, blog posts on different planets, asteroid belt, the sun, etc. could be appropriate.
Is Kid Blogging Good for Homework Assignments?
Yes and no. This really depends on your school demographics. I’ve worked in schools where every student had access to the internet at home and others where half the class didn’t have a way to get online. So in general, if your students have easy access to the internet, kid blogging can be a great way for them to complete their homework while ensuring it doesn’t get lost in the transition from home to school.
Only have a couple students without internet access? Consider opening up your classroom or computer labs in the mornings, after school, or at lunch for students to blog. You can have them plan out their posts on paper at home, then transfer them to the computer or tablet at school.
Keeping Kids Safe While Blogging
Of course, your number one priority needs to be keeping your kids safe while blogging. And this means first educating them about the internet and online safety. I recommend you get started showing them this video:
Again, this is where clearly laying out expectations comes into play. If you have clear expectations, it lessens the likelihod that students will get into dangerous situations. That being said, I still recommend you go through and role play some situations with your students. Give them an idea of things that could happen, and how they should respond in case it does.
Looking for a safe classroom blogging platform that can get your kids blogging online but within a password-protected environment? I suggest your check out Kid Blog.
Start with Your Own Teacher Blog First
Of course, like all things, the key is to try it out yourself first. Before you ever try to get kid blogging going in your class, you need to be intimately acquainted with your own teacher blog. Once you’ve figured out the details on your own, introduce your blog to your students. Maybe do a blog post that requires a response from them as an assignment.
Need to get your own blog started? Check out my guide to start a teacher blog here.