Blogging with the students

Every day I hear teachers complaining about how little their students engage in written activities and how wonderful it would be (for all!) if they did. On the other hand I also hear them complaining about how big their classes are and how difficult it is to correct their written papers.
As for me, I have the same issues: 270 students in classes of about 30 and the impossibility of taking essays home every week (or else my personal life would go down the drain…).
However, I must be honest, what bothers me the most is not only the amount of essays I have to mark but the Ss’ handwritings I have to decode. Honestly, I spend ages trying to figure out if the words are well spelt, if the came is not a come or if it is spend instead of spent. Not to mention the ones I can’t even read and try to guess what they could be. Sometimes I ask for help at home but in the meantime an hour has already gone by and I’m still at the top of the pile.

Ufff.

New year. New resolutions.

I decided to have them blog.

1st I made sure that they all have internet access at home and if not (which didn’t really happen) assign them a period of time in the school library where they do. I confess I  didn’t have high expectations on the number of blogposts and as so, I decided with their approval, to go for a sort of Quadblogging but with the whole class.

How?

1# each week we have a different blogger in each class and all the others have to comment. They know in advance when their turn is therefore they can prepare their texts in advance.

2# they can blog about anything they like – which gives them the freedom to choose what most interests them.

3# there’s a minimum of 150 wds for each week’s blogpost

To proceed with this wish of mine I didn’t want to use any of the platforms I already knew such as this one or Blogger or Edublog that’s when I found Kidblog.

Kidblog is a big blog with little blogs inside. I created a big blog for each class and inside it each student has his own blog. As so, when you access the class’ blog what you get is a thread of all the posts from all the Ss of that class.
It is a free platform unless you want to upgrade it to access further features. The teacher can customize, approve posts and comments as a notification is sent to the email everytime something new is posted. All the posts or comments pending are highlighted in yellow as to be easily spotted by the teacher

blog2

The advantages are plenty being the organization the most important one:

1# the student (and you) has  access to the total amount of his posts  allowing  a global view on both engagement in the activity and progress in writing

blog3

#2 as the teacher gets a notification, posts or comments can be corrected as they come which avoids a huge, simultaneous and discouraging pile of essays.

#3 over with terrible handwriting and marking much easier

#4 the kids have a real audience instead of just a teacher reading what they write

So far this experience has largely exceeded my expectations both on the number of posts I’m getting (not just THE one weekly post but actually many, many more) as well as their quality. Minimum words was set in 150 although many posts overcame the 700! I’m really happy with the outcome and do advise everyone to try. Some are really good like this one, a chapter from a book , this or this. Really proud of them. Who wouldn’t be?

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