We began last Thursday. We went into the computer lab and first we visited the Super Students Blog. It is an excellent 5th grade blog written by Ms. Sanborn's class at Willowdale Elementary. I wanted them to have good blogging role models. I don't know that in one visit my students absorbed those writers' effective strategies, but they were envious that Ms. Sanborn's class was working on a robotics unit.
Next I introduced Blogmeister. The class voted on which Blogmeister template they wanted for our blog. They chose the rainbow colored pattern with a peace sign logo. Next they helped me write the first entry. It was a bit tortuous writing it as a group, but they did help me revise it as we read back through it.
I explained to the class that we were writing for two different audiences. One audience was their classmates. If someone was absent, they could visit the blog to see what they had missed. The other audience was their parents. As I explained it to them...
None of you would ever do this, but SOME children go home and when asked by their parents what they did at school that day, they reply, "Nothing."They clearly related to THAT experience.
Next we went back to the room and formed blogging teams. To my surprise, a number of students chose to be on a team of one, which means they will write alone on their day. To my delight, most of the children wanted to be the first to write to our blog.
Reading the first pairs' draft, I could clearly see that our first area of writing instruction needed to focus on fleshing out writing topics. Even Strunk and White would have to admit this writing was too lean. I had another student work with them to add more details.
The next day, students were approaching me on their own to ask permission to be the blog writer of the day. I hope that level of enthusiam continues.
Before our next session, I created a brainstorming template in Kidspiration, and another one in Appleworks. The children prefer the Kidspiration template, but I'm thinking it may be the most effective for the bloggers to receive a paper template that they carry with them the day they are in charge of writing the blog. They can add to it throughout the day. I'm envisioning a special blogger clipboard they could carry from class to class so that all their teachers would know they had permission to be taking notes.
It was a crazy time of year to tackle something new. We have class through Friday and the children are already giddy with Christmas excitement. However, it is proving a worthy distraction. And it was a gift to me to be blogging with children again.