I just added a new tool to my writing workshop in March - Kidblog. I did so because many teachers I follow on this blog and on twitter suggested it as a great writing tool. I even reached out and emailed questions to Margaret Simon, a wonderful teacher that I only know through her blog posts and twitter tweets. She kindly replied and her encouragement pushed me to not wait any longer and to try this tool now.
Before this year, I was never in a school where kids all had a devise so I used that as an excuse not to try Kidblog. This year, my school gave every 3rd grader an iPad so I had no excuse.
Yet, I did have a few hurdles to jumps through in February in preparation for kicking off blogging as part of the March Slice of Life Writing Challenge. My district, in order to protect student privacy, won't allow students under the age of 13 to interact individually on the internet. Yet, Kidblog has the option that we can just share among our classroom! As Margaret explained in an email, "You have complete control over approving posts and comments, as well as, whether or not they are public." Armed with this information, my tech teacher helped craft a letter to the 3rd grade parents which shared with them the Kidblog's privacy rules and asked for their permission for their child to use this tool. This was shared on a Friday and by the following Tuesday, I had all returned signed to me!
My next hurdle was to get the Kidblog set up for five 3rd grade classrooms for a total of 100 students. But I shouldn't call this a hurdle at all because Kidblog made it so easy!! However, I must give a shout out to my daughter who is also the school-based sub at my school (and also a fun writer in this SOL challenge - look for her at: http://presentperfectblog.com/). She sat with me and together we tried a few test posts and test comments. Having another to talk through the process definitely made it easier to set up the blog classrooms. And I'll admit it helped me to have a twenty-something guide me, a fifty-something, to understand this technology!!
Then it definitely helped that 2016 was a Leap Year. We used Monday, February 29th as a KICK-OFF of Kidblog!! All 100 3rd grade students met in my rooms and I walked them through the process. Topics covered included:
- What is a blog?
- Log In directions
- Making a Post - Adding a header, a title and your small moment story
- What is/isn't a small moment, slice of life story
- Setting a goal - how often will you post?
- Commenting - how to comment in a specific and positive way to keep the writer writing
Now, on Sunday, I am blown away by what my own twenty-three 3rd graders have done in just not even one week!!! They are posting small moments. They are reading others’ writing. They are thoughtfully commenting. They are naming the techniques they see writers using in blog posts.
As I check now, 2pm on Sunday, just 6 days after launching this writing tool, the entire third grade of 105 students has posted 188 posts and made 434 comments!!!! WOW!!