Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Spring Blogging Activity With KidBlog

I wanted my students to do more meaningful writing during literacy centres, so I added a blogging centre.


Needed:

  • students who already know how to blog (I wouldn't recommend this as a first blogging activity)
  • another class/people who will comment
  • three to four lessons/centres

Activity One: Blog About Spring

Students were assigned to blog about spring for one of their literacy centres. Each week I review any new centres at the beginning of the week. So I reviewed what was needed for a blog post and then modeled it by composing one myself. We reviewed:
  • titles have capitals
  • you start with an introduction
  • you should aim for at least three middle sentences
  • end with a conclusion (I encouraged students to ask a question to encourage comments)
I usually chose one student's post to read at the end of centres each day to check for understanding and reinforce expectations (as well it holds them accountable to finish their task as they never know who I will pick). Students then blogged throughout the week and I grabbed students for quick edits during quiet reading time, if needed, each day before I approved posts. Doing this in chunks made it easy to manage and keep on top of the edits. 

I also found it helpful to have the task written on chart paper that I could put up during centres so students could be reminded of the expectations.


Activity Two: Commenting

The following week I changed the blogging centre. This time they had to comment on another person's blog. By this time, each student had one or two comments from people who I occasionally ask to help provide an audience to my students. So the task this week was to:

  1. Re-read your own blog.
  2. Read the comments others have left you.
  3. Select the name under yours on the blog list and read their blog. Then comment.
  4. Continue down the list until time is up (We reviewed when you get to the bottom, you start at the top of the list next).

Again, I reviewed and modeled the task at the beginning of the week. I chose a student's blog and read it aloud. I reminded students how to access the comment box and modeled making a comment. I explained that commenting needed fewer sentences. My expectation was they had one sentence that showed they had read the blog post. Then they needed a question.


Like the week before, I usually chose one student's comments to read at the end of centres. Also like before, I grabbed students for quick edits if needed each day before I approved comments. 



Just as before, I had the task written on chart paper so students could be reminded of the expectations and format.


Activity Two: Replying


I put out over social media a suggestion that people could reply to our blog posts as a writing activity. And as luck would have it, someone did! We had another KidBlog class read our blogs and comment. The teacher said that, " They're hoping that the kids will comment back."

As we never had gone over replying to a comment in class, I decided NOT to do this as a centre. Instead I did it as a whole class activity.

First I explained and then modeled the task:
  1. Find your spring blog post.
  2. Read the comments people made.
  3. Reply to the comments (most had at least three, many had more).
  4. Finished early? Read comments on other classmates' posts.
The expectation for the reply was much the same as the commenting task. I wanted students to write two sentences. This time the first one should be a personalized thank you. The second sentence needed to reflect they had read the comment.


Reflections

I loved this task. It was authentic and motivating. By making it a centre, it was easy to monitor. The biggest challenge is finding  people to comment on the blogs, but a work around for that is having the students become the audience for their classmates. By having students comment in a structured way (comment on the person's blog who is below you), you ensure that all students get at least one comment. I write a few comments on blog posts that only initially had one or two comments.

Students enjoyed the task as well. They really were excited during the last activity when they saw how many comments they had.

The first time I had tried having students comment on blog posts I made it way too complicated for grade twos. I like the simple format I used this time: a sentence that shows you have read the post and a question to the author.

Next Steps

I'd like to do something similar before the end of the year as an assessment task.