Six Easy Steps To Start Student Blogs (Part I)
Want to start student blogs, but you’re worried about having to spend too many weeks introducing this style of writing? At our school, we launch our students’ blogs in a series of just six lessons. After these six lessons, we have a functioning blog system that the students use throughout the year.
(Presumptions: You have access to the Internet. You have set up a class on a site like our favorite, KidBlog.)
Lesson 1: Mentor Text Blogs – As with any genre of writing, students need to see examples of quality work before creating their own. In this lesson, share sample blogs with students. A simple Google search will provide you with many choices of student blogs that you can show. I took screenshots of various blogs we thought students would like, put them together on a Google Doc, and shared it with students. You could easily just print them out as well. The students viewed these blogs and then worked in a group to create a list of qualities of great blogs. The groups shared their lists, and we discussed the qualities that appeared on more than one list.
Lesson 2: Developing an Audience – Start by telling kids that you found a blog you know they are going to love (be very dramatic). Then, put up a blog you know they will hate. I like to put up a post on a mom’s blog about the latest Dora movie. The kids’ reaction is priceless! When asked why they don’t like it, the students say, “Because we’re not babies!” This leads into a discussion about audience. The Dora blog is not targeted toward them, but it is still a quality blog. Then, have students make a list of possible blog topics they could write, along with their target audience. This helps students see that this writing is for the real world. The final step today is to have students choose a topic and list possible blog posts that would fit under that topic.
Lesson 3: Writing a Blog Post…on Paper – The Paper Blog is such a fantastic idea. I don’t know who came up with this idea first, but that person is a genius. I wish I could credit where I first heard about this idea. A big chunk of this lesson is modelling how to write a blog post using a document camera or interactive whiteboard. What you include is up to you. We talk a bit about interesting titles, good beginnings, adding details, and inviting discussion with a question. All of these things are full lessons later in the year, but it’s never too early for students to start hearing about these qualities of great writing.
Now you’re ready to move on to Part Two!