Monday, May 12, 2014

Why Blogger with my students?

I use Blogger with my students. I have two classes currently running fully independent blogs. One 3rd grade class and one 5th grade class.

I often get asked why I chose Blogger over some of the other blogging platforms, namely Kidblog, EduBlogs, or even WordPress.

My choice was based on the following thoughts:

  • we are a Google Apps (GAFE) school so Blogger was an easy choice
    •  to keeps login simple
    • seamlessly integrates with other apps we use such as Drive
  • my class blog, which is used for student assignments and resources, is a Blogger blog ( so there was existing familiarity for students on the look, feel, comment options, etc

That's basically it.

I wanted to see what it would be like to teach students to blog in the same environment I do, using the same tools.

The downside?

Blogger doesn't have the administrative abilities of Kidblogs. I can't moderate posts before they go up, I can't restrict access, I don't have the granular control over the content that I could with a platform such as EduBlogs or Kidblogs.

So why go with Blogger for 3rd and 5th graders if I don't have that restrictive control?

I wanted students to have independence and true ownership of their blogs. Yes, this does open up potential pitfalls. No, there are no moderations on my student blogs. They design, write, publish, and manage their blogs as they see fit.

We spend the majority of our time together talking about

  • purpose
  • audience
  • appropriate writing & voice
  • spam and phishing scams
  • the nitty gritty of responsibility and digital citizenship when you own and publish from your own space

It's an experiment

I have 22 classes a week. 600 students. I started this experiment with a single 4th grade class (now 5th graders). I expanded to include a 3rd grade class this year, to see how the different ages would approach it.

Will I do this with 600 students?

Probably not. 600 blogs is a bit too much to keep track of, even with the best of RSS feed readers.

I may experiment with the other platforms next year. I encourage the classroom teachers in my building to try those platforms out (at this point most teachers have a teacher-run class blog that students comment on, or "guest post" but have no control over design, etc).

If you would like to check out my student blogs they'd love to see their audience stats change:

They also love comments, so if you feel so inclined...

What about next year?

That is a good question. These 5th grades are the first to have independent blogs. At this point the thought is they'll change ownership of it from their GAFE accounts to a personal GMail account (their own or that of a parent) and continue working on it after they graduate.

The 3rd graders will definitely continue. Their blogs will be an ongoing part of their digital portfolio and the foundation for their digital footprint. I plan on using their blogs as the focal point for much of what we do next year.

Will I add another class? Honestly haven't decided yet. Might. Might not. Might give Kidblogs a shot. Possibilities are endless and I have as much fun experimenting and trying new things as the kids do, and at it's core I think that is why having their own independent blogs has worked so well.

I've given them ownership of their own voice and a place to speak to the world. A place to create an audience. A platform to tell their own story as they see fit.

Powerful stuff. But fun. Very, very fun. And at the end of the day that's what matter...


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