(cross-posted from the Yukon Public Schools Learning Showcase website)

For the second year, fifth grade students in Mrs. Sue Hooge’s classes at Independence Elementary School have had the opportunity to share their writing projects online using the free website KidBlog. Mrs. Hooge setup three different KidBlog sites for the 5th grade writing students she taught last year in her homeroom, Mrs. Cromwell’s class, and Mrs. Burgess’ class. Here are some of the comments 5th graders wrote at the end of the year about their experiences with interactive writing and KidBlog.

This year, I thought it was exciting to use Kidblog. I thought it helped me a little because it helped me learn to blog if someday I wanted to blog on something else. It also helped me because it has spell check and it helped me learn how to spell and remember the words that I type. It was also a little fun because I could blog at home about what I did during the weekend or during spring break. Also, at the beginning of the year, we got to do our first blog about the book that we read from the library so it was kind of new to me when it first introduced to me. I really liked Kidblog and I thought it was very fun to experience it.

To access their class’ Kidblog website from home, in the school computer lab, in the classroom, or anywhere else, students learned to visit www.yukonps.com and click the top tab for OUR STAFF. Then students (and other web visitors) can click INTERACTIVE TEACHER SITES in the right sidebar of the page. That page lists links to individual teacher KidBlog sites and other interactive media sites, like YouTube and AudioBoo channels.
In reflecting about her experiences with KidBlog, Ashlee wrote:

I think kid blog is like Facebook but much safer and better for kids! It is really fun to type stories, advice, or just because you want to tell kids about something you did. I also like to comment on people’s post to tell them what I liked about it or tell them if they misspelled a word or something like that. It is great to see what other people are doing or to see how their stories are different from yours! I had a fantastic experience with kid blog and I hope you did too!

It is not only important for our students to learn to practice good digital citizenship and the responsibility which comes with access to digital resources online, it’s also required by the new Common Core State Standards. Students are required to both read and write with different kinds media, and using digital text on a classroom site like KidBlog is an excellent way to practice these skills.
Not all the 5th grade students were excited to use a public, interactive website for writing, however. Landon wrote:

I don’t really like Kid Blog that much but it was kind of fun. I’m not really in to the websites where you type things and people comment on your opinion.

It’s true not all students are fond of writing or enthusiastic about writing in a public forum where other people can see their work. Since we live in a world increasingly filled with digital information, however, it’s more important than ever that we help students learn to wisely and responsibly navigate the choices which face them when it comes to writing and sharing ideas online. It’s important to note Mrs. Hooge MODERATED all the posts and comments which students and others submitted to their Kidblog sites during the year. This ability for the teacher to filter and approve posts before they are seen by other students as well as the public is critical, and helped Mrs. Hooge facilitate positive writing experiences for her students online this year.While blogging in class wasn’t the highlight of the year for every student, it definitely was for some in YPS. Natalie, a student at Lakeview Elementary School, joined the after-school club “Storychasers” last semester. In a recent post on the LES Storychasers site, she wrote:

My half year in story chasers has been the best thing of the whole year. It was great if you are in 4th grade and you are not in story chasers you sure try as hard as you possibly can no matter if you don’t want to be a journalist. My favorite thing in story chasers was when we first started and the things we learned. We learned how to do audio boo, articles, and how to do a lot of things.

It’s wonderful to see teachers and students in YPS embracing digital writing and the opportunities it affords for students to both develop their literacy skills as well as meet Common Core State Standards. Check out more YPS student work on the Interactive Teacher Websites page.


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