Students study existing blogs to learn how to create their own.
One of the best ways to hook young students into writing is by letting them discover the joy of expressing themselves. To do this with today’s technology, encourage students to create their first blog and share it with classmates, family and friends.
Lesson description: Start by having students become familiar with blogs and evaluate several existing sites. Students can use an evaluation sheet (see a sample at www.edtechmag.com/k12) to organize their thoughts. Introduce the concept of specialty blogs and discuss the possible benefits of creating or reading them. Exploring blogs also gives students the opportunity to make choices about what to read in order to reach their knowledge goals.
Next, allow students to pick topics for their blogs. This can be a homework assignment where they consult with friends and family. Before students write their first blog entry, introduce them to basic blog mechanics such as how to create a post, how to link to another site and how to comment. To finish the lesson, have students use their blog evaluation sheets as an outline for creating their first blog entry, which will describe some of the sites they have viewed. A printable worksheet, such as the sample at www.edtechmag.com/k12, can be a step-by-step guide to the assignment. When students have completed the lesson, they can visit other student blogs and leave constructive feedback.
Subject area: This assignment can be modified to apply to almost any subject area or age group.
Curriculum standards: This lesson addresses the following standards from the National Council of Teachers of English:
- Students will gain awareness of diverse literacy communities.
- Students will practice critical-thinking skills.
- Students will evaluate and comment on online literature.
This lesson also addresses these National Educational Technology Standards for Students:
- Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity and promote creativity.
- Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.
- Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information.
- Adora’s Blog: www.adorasvitak.com/Blog.html
- Blogging 101: An Introduction to Reading and Writing a Blog: www.unc.edu/~zuiker/blogging101/readwrite.html
- Blogging Tips for Beginners: www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/ blogging-for-beginners-2/
Grading Rubric: This project introduces a unit and can be graded in conjunction with the final online portfolio or on its own. Students’ grades should be based on their ability to create their own blog, successfully post an entry and share their blog with others.
Adora Svitak is a 10-year-old internationally published author who wrote her first book, Flying Fingers: Mastering the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing, when she was 7. She has since published a second book, Dancing Fingers, and has appeared on Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News and CNN. She teaches several classes a week through videoconferencing.
- Before beginning this lesson, make sure your students understand standard web safety.
- If your school has web safety regulations and filters, you may want to clear the list of blogs students will read with a school administrator.
- Make your blog list long enough that students can choose not to evaluate certain blogs — explain that they get to choose which blogs to evaluate. The element of choice is essential.
- As long as they are age-appropriate, not every blog on your list needs to be exemplary — choosing a few duds allows students to flex their critical muscles.