Digital technologies have become a necessary element of learning. Blogs have become very popular in the classroom especially to promote writing. “Blogs are interactive web pages where individuals can post entries, articles, links and pictures, and ask others to join in conversations” (Cohen & Cowen, Literacy for Children in an Information Age: Teaching Reading, Writing, and Thinking, 2011, p. 51). Writing to a real audience through a blog post is an excellent way to develop audience awareness.
A group of students who share a common interest in a topic can engage in various activities which include: 1) working on a specific task after reading connected text, 2) assigning discussion questions for teams to respond to, 3) using a case-study approach to solve a problem, and 4) presenting projects or reports online. An example of such an activity would be to write a book review for a blog. A student would inform readers of the group about the book of their choice by introducing the book, telling about the book without giving away the ending, telling about their favorite part of the book, and recommending or not recommending the book to everyone.
There are many free blogs that facilitate interactive information sharing in collaborative digital environments. Below are blog resources for teachers.
- Kidblog: www.kidblog.org – Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions.
- MixedInk: www.mixedink.com – Small groups or a whole class draft and reflect on several versions of a text written on the same topic.
- Cool Cat Teacher Blog: www.coolcatteacher.com – Students doing research or science fair projects are able to compile it in an infographic (written artifacts about collected resources in a visual format).
- Google site: www.blogger.com – Readers will see sender’s profile using Google+ Profile. Students are able to read their classmates’ posts and comment on them.
- Voki.com: www.voki.com – Students use Voki.com to create and then share a talking Avatar onto a blog post or e-mail a friend by clicking on publish.
- Parsley Patriot Kids: www.blog.parsleypatriotkids.blogspot.com – Students upload stories about adventures of their school class pet or class mascot.
- Wordpress: http://wordpress.org – Students share favorite stories over 1,500 words.
- Weebly: www.weebly.com – Students create a unique blog site.
- Interesting Way Series: EDTECH@edte.ch/blog -- A site where teachers can learn 64 interesting ideas for class blog posts.
Teachers need to talk to their students about the postings to these blogs to make this approach effective.
As you consider barriers to implementing blogs in your classroom, it is important to make sure that the barriers do not overpower the instructional goal. Lack of time during a class period may be a barrier to the integration of information and communication technology into literacy instruction. However, technology has redefined how knowledge is produced. Creation of knowledge can be as simple as a blog post.
Marilyn E. Moore, Ed. D., (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Professor and Faculty Lead for the Reading Program at National University, La Jolla, California.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).