Sunday, October 12, 2014

Digilit Sunday - Student Blogging

      I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.  
     We are well into the school year, and this is the time when I get stressed because of all the things I haven't done yet with my students that I wanted to by now!  I even woke up an hour before I needed to on Tuesday with my heart racing and my mind spinning about things I should have already taught.  I know this is foolish.  I know there is never enough time.  I know my students and I have accomplished a lot already this year.  I know I feel like this every year and things turn out okay.  However, in response to this mini anxiety attack, I started to prioritize and that made me feel much better.  One of the top things I had wanted for my students by now was to be blogging on a consistent basis.  Not just blogging, but writing good stuff to publish on their blogs!  I created Kidblogs for my current 6th graders at the end of last year, and some students blogged a bit over the summer.  I loved that they got excited about their blogs and wanted to post on them, but I didn't do a good job making sure they wrote quality posts.  So as soon as I woke up for real that day, I rewrote my lesson plans for the rest of the week.  I'm so glad I did!
     The first type of blog post I wanted to concentrate on was a Slice of Life.  Inspired by various educators in my PLN, I started by creating a Google Document with a list of mentor texts gathered from Tuesday link-ups.  I even included some of my own.  I chose that because Slices of Life encourage all kinds of writing - good writing!  I set my students loose on reading through the mentor texts and taking notes in their writers' notebooks over what they noticed: genres, structures, topics, styles, technology ideas, ways to tell a story, etc.  This took a couple of days.  They were really intrigued by all the types of Slices published and noticed what I hoped they would - many Slices told personal stories, but then the authors connected them to bigger ideas, a theme.  Yes!  They also noticed that some were funny, some sad.  Some were prose, poems, or photo-journals.  Some were videos, stories told through apps, or songs. 
     On Friday, after they read through and close-read these mentor texts, they went back to their Heart Maps and chose a topic on which to write a rough draft of their Slices of Life in their notebooks.  As I looked over and read what they wrote, I was so excited.  They were varied and interesting.  I helped tweak some of them a bit so they would not just be an account of something that happened, but more of a reflection or memoir.  Some needed to hone in on just one part of their Slice to describe in more detail or illuminate.  For instance, one student wrote a Slice that was really 5-6 Slices.  She needed to choose just one aspect of it and slow it down.  One student was inspired by a boy in Margaret's class who is posting portions of a fictional narrative and so started his own.  Some will be able to start posting next week.  I also want to do some lessons on commenting.  I'll borrow some of Margaret's ideas about teaching this.  Michelle Haseltine is also teaching commenting right now.  I remember Katherine Sokolowski and Franki Sibberson having blogging/commenting lesson ideas on their blogs, also.  I'll dig through them to glean some of their wonderful ideas.  It's so great to be able to get ideas from all those great educators out there in the blogosphere!
     As soon as I get them doing Slices of Life effectively, I'll add on some of the other weekly memes and link-ups that would be fun for them.  I'll require a Slice of Life weekly and then I may add one other blog post as well.  They will be required to make a certain number of comments, also.  I know I should have had this up and running much sooner, but better late than never!  I can't wait to start connecting with other classes, too.  Ultimately, we're getting ready for the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge in March.  Watch out, world!!


  1. I am so thrilled that you are doing this. I know you will not be disappointed. My students have gained so much from blogging. More than I could ever measure. I did have them pick out their favorite post for a more thorough grading. We talked about the rubric and they were pleased with their selections. I think it is important that they are involved in the assessment process. I hope we can connect our students soon.

  2. I don't know what happened to my comment. I look forward to reading your students' blogs and hope they will inspire my students' writing. I have a category added in Kidblogs for "Slice of Life" but we have not yet started. Did you link to your Google Doc with mentor texts? Or did you just use the models from Slice of Life? I also like Margaret's idea of involving students in the assessment process; I wrote about this in my DigiLit Sunday. I look forward to learning more about this work.