The Power of Free Voice and Blogging

 

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We blog. And we blog a lot. I must admit that throughout the year I have questioned this decision and ritual of classroom blogging by ten year old bloggers. Yet, every time I question it, I am reminded why I do it. It’s the power of kids writing and loving it. We don’t always connect those two concepts of kids and loving writing. Sure some do; they write every chance they get. But many struggle with it. They struggle to get those wonderful thoughts they have up in their heads down on paper. Or maybe they don’t have any thoughts at all that they want to share. We all get writers’ block now and again so why shouldn’t they? But most of them find blogging freeing.

In our classroom we blog every Tuesday and Thursday morning for about a half an hour. Although I must admit, that if the kids had their way we would blog longer. So why do I worry so about this? It’s the same ‘ole same ‘ole worries of covering content. Getting to all the units and giving them the time and depth they need and deserve. But there’s something different about blogging that makes it so worth our time. For one thing the kids love it. It is very rare that a kid will complain that it’s Tuesday or Thursday morning. And who doesn’t want to start a kids’ day off on such a perfect note? For another thing it’s good stuff. Have you ever watched a child play a musical instrument while reading the musical notes? The tongue sticking out or to the side, the body so in tune, the eyes focused. You can almost smell the concentration. Well that’s what it’s like when we’re blogging…almost. The kids are focused. They are writing their posts, reading each other’s posts, concentrating, looking for just the right words to respond to each other via comments. There is a beauty to watching a class of twenty kids hum along with those tongues sticking out of their mouths as they maneuver the keys on the keyboard, their thoughts about their reading, their thoughts about their friend’s writing, and the help they give and receive to get just the right picture on the top of their post. But it’s writing comments that is their favorite part. It’s also the part I don’t get on them for their imperfect grammar. It’s their’s and they know it. The way I look at it is that the kids are writing and they are enjoying it and that makes me as happy as it makes them.

Something worth noting is why they are writing. They are writing about their home reading. Now they have an incentive to read at home!! Forget the home reading log. This is their home reading log! For years I have played with home reading logs. How to get a design that begs for deep reflective thinking and wonderful copious writing. It never happened. The kids hated those things and I hated reading them. They were void, empty, blah. Then blogging hit our room and I got an idea. I changed our home reading log into a 4 square graphic organizer that focused the kids on the structure of their text. One square for the main characters, one for setting, one for problem, and one for a major event. We purposely left out one for solution because the kids didn’t want to tell how their book ended! The purpose of this organizer is to record/organize their thoughts while they are reading at home so they can blog easily and quickly. It worked and like a charm. The kids are using it! One boy who refused to do home logs (because I don’t think he read at home) now does them every week. I asked him why and he said, “Because it’s great! It lets me write a blog  that makes sense and real fast so I can write comments!”  Some kids choose to blog at home so they can spend their mornings just reading each other’s posts and commenting.

So if you haven’t tried blogging with your kids, think about it. I use KidBlog and I have it set up so kids submit their post which goes to my page. If I feel the post is ready, I publish it. My expectations increase as the year develops. But I must caution against expecting final product, research paper perfection. When I tried that the kids stopped writing. So I backed off and they began to write again. It’s a delicate dance. The blog is set so their posts are visible to just their classmates and invited guests, and of course me. Once in a while I will post something “public” but usually it’s not a post by a kid. This level of security is what made the parents and principal feel safe and secure. If you want a way for your kids to experience authentic and rich reading, writing, sharing, and discussing, then consider blogging. It not only gets them writing but also reading more books and each others’ posts to boot! Now that is a win win. Reading, writing, and loving it.

 

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