Tag Archives: Kidblog

Tuesday’s Tool: KidBlog.org

If it wasn’t already obvious, I am a huge proponent of blogging, especially in the classroom. There is no other online tool that provides space to be thoughtful and reflective while also including the audience in the discussion. Add to these communicative properties in blogging the ability to link to related resources, embed multimedia, and revise as often as necessary. What you have is a powerful online tool that only gets better with age.

Blogging is a big part of my perspective on my work and life. I blog here, but I also blog for my community and for fun. I find the interactions and dialogue that happens on my blogs are invaluable to my growth as a lifelong learner. This is why I encourage teachers every school year to start their own blogs and to even get their students involved in these blogging projects. When teachers started their own blogs or assigned their students to submit posts or comments to these blogs, I felt my promotion of the medium was successful.

Then, I read Krissy Venosdale’s post on blogging. Krissy recently came to the realization that her students didn’t have their own blogs even though they often blogged on her classroom space. It’s a simple observation but rather insightful. Just as we try to provide some ownership for our students in the classroom in the form of determining classroom norms or providing more choice in the form of student-led inquiry, to not give each student his or her own blog goes against this philosophy. After all, students take more ownership and pride in their learning when they are able to take some ownership in the learning environment.

Krissy, never one to make proclamations without providing some solutions, suggested that Kidblog.org is a suitable tool for giving kids their own blogs. KidBlog is a safe space where email addresses are not required. The results for Krissy and her students was apparent:

My kids are writing.  They are excited.  They have a forum.  A place to voice their opinions. A place to reflect.  A place that is theirs.  It’s really, really theirs.    Now they are learning.  The etiquette of blogging.  The power of getting your message out for others to see.  The importance of polishing writing before you publish.   The excitement of engaging in discussion comments.  Their writing is no longer stuffed in the back of desks or at the bottom of bookbags.

Isn’t that what we want from our students? Isn’t this how excitement for learning translates in the 21st century?

Now, not only will I encourage my teachers to blog, but I will promote students writing on their own blogs as a way to go further with a tool that has enormous learning potential.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tools: Finding Space for Students on the Web

The World Wide Web is a wondrous thing, but it is often overcrowded with material not suited for students. We at eMINTS are always on the lookout for tools and resources that make the web a friendly place for students. This week’s list of online tools will do just that.

While Blogger and WordPress are excellent blogging tools, they come with the added risk of being part of an online community. For some teachers, this is rather uncomfortable position. Kidblog.org makes it possible for teachers to set up safe and easy to figure out blogs for their elementary and middle school students. Kidblogs simply allow students to publish blog posts and converse in a safe, controlled environment.

Looking for more of an online presence for students? Try Weebly for Education as a web and blog host. The popular web hosting and design site provides an added features of collecting homework and managing student accounts. Of course, there is also a blogging component that makes Weebly rather versatile.

It has been mentioned here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Safeshare.TV is an easy way to access videos on YouTube without having to deal with pesky ads, (un)related videos, and comments. Safeshare.TV just makes it possible to access the great content that can be found in YouTube’s many, many videos.

How about finding resources on the web that contain appropriate reading levels for your students? Twurdy is a Google-powered search engine that color-codes resources based on reading levels. This can come in handing when researching a topic for students with some reading limitations. Allow students to conduct searches on Twurdy or do the work beforehand, identifying the most appropriate results for your students.

What are some tools you use in providing space and accessibility to the web for your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. A special H/T goes out to eMINTS instructional specialists Carla Chaffin and Debbie Perkins for suggesting the tools above.