We have begun our own classroom blog, The View From 3rd Grade. The kids are enormously excited. The challenge that remains is how to fit blogging into our bust schedule. I would love to hear about your own blogging experiences with your classes, answer questions for people just starting out, our trade contact info so we can collaborate on future blogging projects.

Tags: 3rdgrade, blogging, blogs, collaboration, elementary

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I just started a classroom blog in early December (www.mrsheatonsclass1.blogspot.com). I had to get special permission from the district to do this and I have been asked to teach a class at our teacher institute this summer. That alone has made blogging more pervasive in our classroom then I think it would have been (which is a good thing). I actively look for ways for my fourth graders to blog on a weekly basis - be it creating a blog post, responding to one of my blog posts, or linking to other school blogs and responding. Under my writing plan of the day I list the blog post of the week and they have until Friday to complete, either at school or at home (depending on the blog post). They can blog as they are done regular classroom work, in the morning when they come in, as we are waiting for dismissal, etc. I try to create links to blogs within my main blog so students don't spend time typing long email addresses. I have reduced the number of sentences required too depending on the student, time, etc.

Keyboarding, time, and computers are definitely issues in my classroom, much as it is in most classrooms. Here are some of the things I have done to address each.

- I have three (including my own) computers in the classroom. I can check out the labtop lab (which has 10 computers) if needed and no one else is using. I also can use five of the library computers and I have been known to farm out students to other classrooms to post on their unused computers. We have a computer lab that is used as a special but I can use it during the computer "planning" period and if I need to send a student or two up to the lab as they often aren't using all the computers during their specials period. That has pretty much solved my "not enough computers" problem.

- Typing is an issue but they do get faster with practice. I generally require a five sentence minimum post on some of the items and they often have to prewrite it and show it to me before going to a computer (this reduces the amount of "think" time at the computer). Our post last week was to write a short persuasive piece about their report animal in order to convince people that it would make a perfect pet. There are students who move so slowly that I wind up typing their post as they dictate it to me. That doesn't happen very often because they all want to type and having me type it is embarassing to them (it means they didn't use their time wisely in class to get it done by the deadline - and I deduct points from their post if I have to type for them for that reason).

- I find it helpful to have students post in pairs. That means they have another set of eyes on their post while they are typing. I don't have time to go to everyones post and if a group tells me they are done I simply ask the second person (not typing) if they looked at it carefully and would they be willing to take a five point deduction on their grade for any mistakes on that persons post (that usually makes them look at the post a bit more carefully). I try to team them based on ability (high student with a lower student). If I have two low students together it can be a bit like the blind leading the blind.

I am really happy with my blogging experience so far. Students have learned:

- How to log into a blog
- How to respond to a blog being positive/constructive
- How to get to the blog quickly
- The importance of putting spaces after periods and commas
- Rereading posts before putting them on line
- How to upload a photo (this was a big deal because the students had to link to their file on our student drive)
- How to view photos in their file folder on the student drive by turing the thumbnail view on.
- Internet safety

The students love going to the computer and writing and they don't complain that it is another writing assignment. I love that parents and silblings are posting to their childs work. I love seeing the kids check the blog for comments on their posts. This weekend I had two children comment to five posts on their own time from home...that is a big deal (students using technology and writing on their own time!).

We have teamed with a fourth grade class in Colorado and have looked for other fourth grade classes to respond to. I link those sites to our class blog so students can access them easily to respond. I try to get students to put their name and location (not last name and only the state) when they post to other peoples blog so that students can get excited to see that someone in South Carolina read what they wrote.
we would love for you to visit our fourth grade class blog! I usually blog as a replacement for our class newsletter--also, students get to be "guest bloggers" New to this forum...I am not sure if the link I am pasting in will work...
but I will try to visit your blog with my class and leave a comment so you can reply that way as well...

www.ateachingheart.blogspot.com
Thank you Jane. Your blog looks great!
Hi Amy,
This year (actually about 8 days ago!) I started a blog with my Year 1 students. I'm using it for the students to blog what they have done or learnt each day. I started by showing the whole class, then each day I have taken about 5 or 6 students aside and blogged with them. To start with, I am doing the typing as they talk about what they have done or learnt. We reread and edit together and then post. I added some photos at a later date.

I sent a note home to all the parents encouraging them to comment. We were very excited to get our first comment. A parent commented during the day and that night her daughter posted a comment. I am meeting with all the parents next week where I will promote the blog more and hopefully they will begin to comment.

At the moment I think a daily blog post is going to be difficult to maintain with all the other classroom commitments, so I may move to a weekly post. Down the track I would like the children to type. They can save the post for me to publish later. All things to monitor as we go along.

The blog can also be used for communication with parents but that will require some education on their part as they are used to paper communication - but you have to start somewhere.

Your blog gave me the idea of writing a blog post about the big book we are reading each week, so thanks!

Good luck with your blog. I've subscribed to your posts so will keep in touch.

Amanda
Thanks for your thoughts, Amanda. I, too, will follow your blog.

Amy
HI, I just started the blogging thing with my first graders. I am looking for ideas to add to it.
And how to get the parents and kids more involved. The kids love going and looking but they are not making many comments. I have some of the kids who do not have internet access at home doing or helping with some of the posts.

http://mrspatterson.edublogs.org/
Dear Blenna,

Good luck with your blog. Let me know if you if you need specific ideas although since I also new to this, I may or may not be helpful.

Amy :)
Your third grade blog looks great! I would love to do something like this with my class, but haven't a clue where to even begin to think about it. Any suggestions on the best way to get started?
Hi Rand,
I blog with my second graders here. Before blogging with my students I visited many student blogs to see what other classes were doing. I decided to make our blog a combination of student responses to a prompt, free writing, and classroom projects such as VoiceThreads. If you decide to use Class Blogmeister, I have some lesson plans for the first couple of lessons that I'd be happy to share. We've only been blogging since November, but I'd be glad to help. Have fun blogging!
Mandy
Thanks Mandy. I love the Voicethread! I recently found about about this tool, and I'd love to use it in class. Did you have to obtain permission from the district to have a class blog? Also, in your view, what are the advantages of going with Blogmeister? Keep up the great work!
Rand
I have started to venture into the 2.0 world with my 5th grade students (blogging, recording mp3s, voice thread projects) and my students have really become enthusiastic. One of the sites I found was a fifth grade teacher in CA. that does quite a bit of online work with his kids. He has built up a pretty impressive site.

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