Blogging in the Primary Grades? Yes, Indeed!
- Preview |
- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
Blogs give students an authentic reason to think through their writing because they know their audience can respond to them. In this lesson, students read blogs written by students their own age and learn to shape a well-thought-out response that addresses and answers the questions posed in the blog. Then, after reading, discussing, and deciding what makes a good blog entry or comment, students create their own response to a teacher-created blog entry to discuss the sequel possibilities of a favorite book.
- Jennifer Nelson: Digital Learning from Room 118: Use this website as an example of how to create a blog with your students and as a place to interact with another class’s blog at the end of the lesson.
- Literature Response Blog Rubric: Use this rubric as an evaluation tool for your students’ blog entries.
From Theory to Practice
- In this article, the author gives step-by-step instructions for setting up several types of blogs for classroom use. She goes beyond the traditional blogs and discusses four steps to expand student knowledge by incorporating higher order thinking (HOT) skills through the use of teacher-posted questions answered by students, which encourages students to think deeply about literature and formulate a response online.
- Zawilinski provides a synthesis scaffolding figure in the article, demonstrating discussion questions to help incorporate both traditional reading and the higher order thinking skills required for online reading comprehension and evidence-based blog comments.
- The authors present recommendations for blogging with elementary students using the experiences of Karen Arrington, a veteran third-grade teacher in Texas, and her journey to teach substantial blog writing.
- This article gives steps for teachers to follow in guiding students from writing blogs of little or no substance (penny comment) to writing blogs of substance (dollar comment) and includes a rubric to assess students' blog writing.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Computers or tablets with Internet access
- Tuesday by David Weiner
- Computer with projector or smartboard with Internet access
- Go to Class Blogs Shed: The Literacy Shed’s blog section or to 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School, an Australian elementary school’s class blog, and choose a few blogs from there to bookmark for students to access and read easily.
- Read the book Tuesday by David Weisner. Have the video for Tuesday on The Picture Book Shed: The Literacy Shed ready to show to the class via projector, or bookmark it on the class website.
- Bookmark the Story Mapping and Persuasion Map interactives to help students sketch out their thoughts before blogging.
- Review the two videos available on Learning About Blogs FOR Your Students: Part VII—Langwitches Blog to help students understand quality blogging.
- Print out and review the Teacher Assessment Worksheet, which is for making anecdotal notes on students and their work throughout the lesson.
- Print out and review the Literature Response Blog Rubric. You need one for each student for assessment purposes. In addition, make copies of the Literature Response Blog Rubric to share with students and/or post in the classroom for them to reference while writing their final blog entry.
- Create a classroom blog where students can post their blog entries. Doing this allows you to keep everything in one place. Blogs offer the creator the option of approving every comment that posts, so when you are creating your blog, make sure you use this option so that you see what has been posted before anyone else can see it out there in the world. This allows you to know every time that someone has posted to your blog so you can go and review and approve the comment quickly and then respond to your students if you choose. It builds in an extra layer of protection.
- Create your own anchor chart of blogging steps that includes each step students need to take to access the site and post their blog entries when they are ready to do so. Make copies of the anchor chart for students to have with them if they are posting from home.
- Learn to communicate digitally by writing and posting clear, concise, and well-written blog entries to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information)
- Learn to adjust their use of written language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes by writing blog entries
- Learn to demonstrate the benefits and uses of blogging by reading, writing, and discussing successful and unsuccessful blog entries
- Learn to apply their knowledge of language structure and conventions by writing knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical blog posts
Session 1: Introduction to Blogs and Blogging
- The first session is meant to introduce students to blogs written by students of similar ages who are in similar classroom situations. Ask students to tell you what they know or have heard about blogging. Tell them that the word “blog” is short for “weblog,” and explain why it’s a good idea for your classroom to have a blog.
- Use your computer and projector or smartboard to guide students to one of your bookmarked sites to read blog entries written by elementary students: 4KJ @ Leopold Primary. This website, which is written by fourth grade students, is a classroom blog for two classes but also has links to individual student blogs that you can read and discuss together. Ask students what types of entries they enjoy reading. Ask them what they think makes a good blog entry and why. Discuss whether it is important to pay attention to grammar in a blog comment, even though it may be short. Talk about using adjectives and “spicy, tasty” words to create a picture in the reader’s mind.
- After you have had some time to review and discuss together, allow students to explore the sites you chose to bookmark earlier on 4KJ @ Leopold Primary or Class Blogs Shed: The Literacy Shed. Have them read and explore blog entries or anything else they find interesting. (You may want to pull Class Blogs Shed: The Literacy Shed up on the projector or smartboard to show them before you set them free to search.) There are class blogs from around the world on these sites, so give students enough time to explore.
- When the time is up, get students back together to share the most interesting things they found. If time permits, ask students to share with their neighbors one favorite thing that they discovered. Ask students what types of things they think are important to have as a part of your own classroom blog. What types of things were interesting for them to read on the blogs of their peers? Was there anything students found that made them want to stop reading a blog?
- Distribute copies of the anchor chart you created during your Preparation time. Tell students that you can add to it throughout the lesson so that they are able to remember what they learned and apply it to the classroom blog when they reach that step.
- Display the Literature Response Blog Rubric for students using your projector or smartboard. Discuss each category, and explain what they all mean. Tell students that this is how their blog writing is going to be evaluated. After you have discussed each category on the rubric, tell students that they should refer to it when they are deciding whether a blog entry is good or not. Leave the rubric displayed in the room for students to refer back to as they are writing, and if desired, give each student a copy.
Session 2: Getting Ready to Write
- Ask students to think back on the first session and share what makes a good blog entry. Use the anchor chart to help students remember key points of the discussion, and review it together. Tell them that it might be possible to have your classroom blog published on Class Blogs Shed: The Literacy Shed, which they visited in the last session. Discuss what might make Class Blogs Shed: The Literacy Shed want to publish your classroom blog, or what might make them not want to include your blog on their site.
- Ask them again to turn to their neighbors and explain what makes a high quality blog. Together, watch the two videos on Learning About Blogs FOR Your Students: Part VII—Langwitches Blog, where students have discussed quality blogging and what elements are included.
- After viewing both videos, brainstorm ideas of what students agree with and what they disagree with, and then create your list of “must haves” for your own blog.
Session 3: Build Your Blog
- Tell students that your first blog trial is a response to the book Tuesday by David Weisner. Read the book aloud.
- Watch the animated version found on The Picture Book Shed: The Literacy Shed. Ask students why this book is a little different from other books they have read. Talk about why the author chose to include only a few words with lots of pictures. Ask them how long they think he had to work to get his pictures just right. Tell them that to create a blog that people want to read, they are going to have to take their time to get it just right.
- Show students a picture from the book, and model a think-aloud. Ask students to describe the picture with just their words. Make sure you close the book so that they can no longer see the picture. Instruct them to start their sentence with “I’m picturing….” Remind students that this is where their vivid vocabulary and spicy, tasty words are important.
- Ask students if they know what it means to review a book. They may have heard of a movie review rather than a book review. Use your projector, smartboard, or chart paper to model how to write a review. Ask students if saying something like, “It was good,” would be enough for a good review. Give them some ideas for what to include in their blog entries. In your example, include things such as your favorite part of the book, what you wish had been included, and what you would change if you could.
- Tell students that now they are going to write their own review of Tuesday. Remind them that they need to write more than one sentence to create a good review. Ask them what they think should be required in their own blog review. Create a list on the board of what you decide together is a must have. Make sure to include things like good punctuation and complete sentences. Allow students to write on paper while you circulate to help. As you circulate, make anecdotal notes for students on your Teacher Assessment Worksheet, as needed.
- Tell students that the next part of their blog writing is going to happen during your next session.
Session 4: Build Your Blog, Part 2
- Review your class’s goals and objectives for blogs. Briefly go over Reflection Questions for Weekly Writer’s Blogs: Online Commenting Guidelines, and use the anchor charts you have created to lead students through a question and answer time. Review your must haves.
- Discuss how the book Tuesday ends and what the shadow of the pigs flying might indicate for a sequel. Ask students what they would like to see in the sequel. Ask them if they would rather write to persuade the author to write a sequel or write their own sequel. What would be the pros and cons to each possibility?
- Explain that students need to either create a plan for their own sequel or write to persuade the author to write a sequel so they can add it to their blog. Tell them that for either choice, there is an interactive tool they can use to help them.
- First, show students how to use the Story Mapping interactive to organize their thoughts prior to blogging. Model using the tool from beginning to end to give students a thorough introduction.
- Next, use the projector or smartboard to show how to use the Persuasion Map interactive for students who would rather persuade the author to write the sequel using their idea. Ask them if they understand what “persuade” means. Give a few examples, such as persuading your parents to let you stay up late. Model your example(s) using the Persuasion Map.
- Tell students that it is their turn to finish their blog entries. They can use either the Story Mapping or the Persuasion Map interactives and discuss what they are writing with each other to share ideas and advice. Remind them of the things they need to keep in mind while writing, like punctuation, complete sentences, and thoughts that are backed up with examples from the book. Allow them to have some time to continue their rough drafts while you circulate and help. As you circulate, make anecdotal notes for students on your Teacher Assessment Worksheet, as needed.
- Check over each student’s blog entry as he or she is working and when he or she finishes. You may want to have a conference with each child so that you can discuss what needs to be added or fixed before online writing begins. If desired, have students read their rough drafts to a friend to make sure their sentences make sense. Once they feel they are ready to conference with you, you can help them see what needs to be fixed. For the upper grades, you may want to have a recommended length for the final rough draft.
- Print out each student’s rough draft. You should compare it to his or her final blog entry after Session 5 has been completed.
Session 5: Blogging Online
- Get students excited about going live today! Tell them that once they blog online, their entries are out there for everyone to read and think about. Review the anchor charts of what makes a good blog and the must haves that have been chosen. Tell students that this is like a final copy because it is going to be published on your classroom’s website.
- Ask students if they have heard about Internet safety before. Primary students may never have heard about Internet safety, so it is very important to explain it to them. Tell them that they should never post their last name or address online, and explain why that is unsafe. Take the time to tailor this part of the discussion to your students. Note that the upper grades may need a much more in-depth discussion.
- Together as a class, use your own rough draft to model how to create your blog entry online. Post it to the classroom blog you created during the Preparation for this lesson. Walk students through the steps to find where their blog entry goes. Explain to students that before they hit the button to “submit,” they need to read over their writing a couple of times looking for any mistakes. When you model writing your blog, make some mistakes and see if students catch them. Model going back and fixing them and then reading it over again.
- Remind students of the Literature Response Blog Rubric that has been displayed throughout the course of the lesson (or which they have a copy of, if you chose to distribute it). Ask them questions about the categories and what they mean so that you can detect where there is confusion and address it as needed. Explain again that this is how you are going to evaluate their blog writing.
- Tell students that it is their turn! Use the blogging steps anchor chart to guide students to the spot to post their entries. This anchor chart should be left up in the room for students to refer back to as needed while blogging. Pass out the student copies of the chart for students to keep with them as they are blogging.
- As students post their final blog entries, circulate and make any final anecdotal notes on your Teacher Assessment Worksheet as needed.
- Go to Jennifer Nelson: Digital Learning from Room 118. My students are going to blog on this lesson after we complete it, and we would love to have your class join in the conversation. You can comment from your class to mine, or individual students can comment on their own. If you choose to participate on our blog, we’d love to respond to you. You are also welcome to take your students through the same steps to comment on our Magic Tree House blog page.
- Collect copies of each student’s final blog post to evaluate in comparison to the rough drafts and using the Literature Response Blog Rubric.
- Once your students have gotten the blog bug, they may love seeing others respond to them and their writing. This is a good time to explain to them that usually a blog is just the beginning of a conversation that takes place online. Invite parents and other teachers to comment on your students' blog entries, and help students respond to those comments with substantial comments of their own.
- There are some classroom websites that have added a blog page for every student. A few of the examples used in this lesson fall into that category. You may feel that after a few blog lessons your students are each ready for their own page. Allow them to create their own blog page from the class website.
- Students love to see their words online. They also love to see that their online words have actually changed something in their lives. Therefore, giving them a real-world reason to blog is always desired. A great way to do this is to create a blog blitz trying to persuade your principal to do something that is important to the students (i.e., give them more recess time). The blitz part comes in when everyone in your class, your grade, or even your school blogs on the same topic. You could even create a blog blitz form for students to use to keep the blog posts uniform. If their persuasive words work and result in a change, it demonstrates clearly to them the power of online words.
- This is the type of lesson that can be repeated throughout the year for various purposes. If you'd like to do this in your classroom, in the middle of the year look back on the beginning blog entries written by your students before they write their new entries. Then note the growth that has taken place after comparing their beginning entries to their new entries. Do this again at the end of the year if you'd like.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Throughout the lesson, observe each student during classroom discussion and writing and make anecdotal notes on the Teacher Assessment Worksheet. Address any problems with individual students as needed before they begin their final blog entries in Session 5.
- Monitor each student's use of the Story Mapping or Persuasion Map interactives to see if they are using each one correctly and to its full potential.
- Keep a copy of each student's rough draft, and print out a copy of each student's final blog entry. Review these in tandem for evidence that students have followed the writing process successfully.
- Using the Literature Response Blog Rubric, evaluate each student's final blog entry.