As I have written about before, I have a system in my classroom where students can earn their own blog. Adapted from Linda Yollis’ idea, I have found the system to work well in both my grade two and grade four classes.
Recently, six 4KM and 4KJ students were the first to earn their own blogs for 2012. They join a couple of student bloggers in our class who were in 2KM or 2KJ in 2010.
Teaching about and encouraging quality comments is a big part of our classroom blogging program. It is the first blogging skill we teach students and we invest a lot of time in this process. I have found that quality commenting allows the students to improve their literacy skills and engage in meaningful conversations on the blog.
Teaching students about creating quality blogs and writing quality blog posts is another area that needs explicit teaching and ongoing feedback.
Over a series of blog posts, I will look at aspects of quality student blogging.
What makes a quality student blog post?
Over the years, I have discovered my own definition of quality by working with my student bloggers.
Left to their own devices, I have seen many students create posts like this.
While enthusiasm is high, this is not the sort of work I’d like my students to aim for. I believe the following areas need attention.
- Overuse of glitter text – very tempting for young bloggers!
- Unnecessary post introduction. I find many student bloggers want to start each post with “Today I am going to talk about…”
- Lack of content. I would encourage this student to either research some information about dogs or write a personal reflection on their dog.
- Lack of proofreading and overuse of exclamation marks.
- Use of unattributed, copyright image from Google Images.
- Limited interaction with reader (ie. they could end the post with some questions).
- Written about a topic that interests him, and would also be useful to others (game review).
- Used text and images without overdoing coloured fonts or glitter text.
- Proofread his work with an adult and corrected most errors.
- Included a link to the game he was reviewing.
- Ended his post with questions for his readers. Not surprisingly, Jarrod received 29 comments on this post.
Tips for writing quality posts
Helping students to create high quality blog posts is an ongoing process. I don’t teach them about every aspect of quality blogging as soon as they begin. Teachable moments often occur as students travel along their blogging journey.
Some of the tips I give student bloggers include:
- Write posts semi-regularly such as every week or two. People might not have a chance to read posts that are published too close together. Readers might forget about your blog if you leave too long of a gap between posts.
- Write about something that you are interested in but also something that will interest others. I will write more about chosing post topics in an upcoming post.
- Reply to all/most of your commenters. Readers will be encouraged to comment again if their comment is acknowledged or if they engaged in a conversation.
- Don’t overdo glitter text and keep fonts consistent and easy to read. Yellows and fluro colours are generally very hard to read.
- If you want to use images, use creative commons images, screenshots or your own photos/artwork. I have written about teaching students to use creative commons images here.
- Make posts easy to read. Left aligning text, using paragraphs, subheadings and/or dot points all helps the reader take in your post more easily.
- Experiment with web 2.0 tools to make your posts interactive and engaging. In the past, I have explicitly taught students about some tools and also encouraged them to find their own new tools that meet their needs.
- End posts with questions to provide readers with commenting prompts. Formulating questions that a variety of readers could answer is a skill that we like to help our students develop.
- Proofread and check your facts before publishing. One of my student bloggers recently wrote a post about my upcoming visit to the USA without checking his facts. He wrote that I was going to stay at one of Linda Yollis‘ student’s houses! This was definitely a teachable moment.