WriteSteps Curriculum Creator Katie Davis meets the Common Core technology requirements for publishing K-5 writing with a simple and engaging blogging platform.
Then, if you haven’t found your way into blogging yet, try another publishing option your students will love: a free blogging platform that’s so simple, even first graders can use it! Our fourth-grade curriculum creator, Katie Davis, recently gave WriteSteps Coaching Director Arlynn King the scoop on Kidblog.
Arlynn: The Common Core standards for writing require elementary teachers to introduce students to digital publishing tools. Continuing with the technology theme in our August e-Newsletter, can you tell us about your favorite free digital tool for publishing student writing?
Blogging is Not Just for Older KidsKatie: Last year, we blogged regularly in first grade, and we’ll do it next year in my second grade room. Blogging is definitely not just for older kids. I use the website kidblog.org. It’s free and it’s wonderful for elementary students!
Arlynn: Can you describe how it works?
Katie: We have a classroom page, and within that, each child has his or her own blog. Students can publish the stories they write and comment on classmates’ posts. We do positive comments only in first grade.
Screen shot of the kidblog.org home page, a free technology tool that motivates young writers and meets the Common Core writing standard for K-5 digital publishing.I can also share the password to our blogs with family members so parents and grandparents can see the children’s work online. It’s very exciting for them, and it gives my students an authentic audience, real feedback from readers, and an engaging writing experience.
Arlynn: Do you blog as a teacher, too?
Katie: Yes, I have my own classroom blog where I will regularly post student work via pictures and podcasts — students reading their written work. Kids love visiting our class blog in the computer lab and at home to see their work. It’s the new version of me hanging their work on the “refrigerator!”
Screen shot of WriteSteps Curriculum Creator Katie Davis’ classroom blog from the 2011-2012 school year. Katie taught her students to use kidblog to publish their writing, and she also posted entries to showcase classroom events.Again, this has been very helpful in engaging students, getting them excited about writing, and motivating them to revise – they do lots of revising and practicing before reading a piece for a podcast. It also gives them a framework to begin learning to think about their audience.
Arlynn: Is there anything else you’d like to share about blogging at school, Katie?
The Class Blog and Teacher-Parent CommunicationsKatie: I also use my classroom blog as my “newsletter” to parents and families. I update it weekly with curriculum we are working on and tools for parents to work with their children, like word lists, book recommendations, and websites. I use the blog to post snack schedules, volunteer schedules, district and school information and events, at-home reading tips, and pictures or videos of what’s happening in our classroom community.
It’s a great way to facilitate effective, efficient, and frequent communication with the parents and families of my students. They comment on it frequently, and I can respond to their questions quickly.
The writing standards require elementary students to “With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.” This screen shot from www.corestandards.org shows which states have adopted the standards.Arlynn: Are there other technologies you’re using to make digital publishing accessible to K-5 students?
Katie: My district also has iPads, which makes blogging even easier for lower elementary students. I can use QR codes for our website and my students can just scan a projected image of a QR code in order to get to their blog. They no longer have to type the whole web address.
A Red Carpet Premier
I have also created digital stories with my students using imovie. Because they were first graders, we did this together as a team, rather than independently. We discussed what we wanted to add: pictures the students have created, stories they have written, their voices reading their work, and the musical choices we thought fit with our digital story. We have had a “red carpet premiere” of our movie in the library with guests and popcorn! Many of these ideas I gained from working with the National Writing Project and learning from many other amazing teachers in that community.
Arlynn: Thank you for sharing, Katie! I know you’ve already dismantled last year’s blog, but we look forward to showing your students’ work to our readers in the coming school year!
Katie: Thanks, Arlynn, me too!
Katie Davis is a second grade teacher in Grand Ledge, Michigan. She is a National Writing Project Fellow and worked as Writesteps’ Fourth Grade Curriculum Creator.