There was a heavy focus on incorporating blogging into our weekly school routine at my international school last year. We had a class set of laptops in a cart for each floor, and a moderately difficult to access class set of iPads in the faraway library.
Here is a detailed Prezi that might answer some of your questions about how blogging can enrich the learning in your classroom.
My school purchased a Kid Blog account for grades 2-5. I was teaching Grade 2 (aka Year 3). The students had never blogged before but they were pretty excited to start! It took a lot of teaching. I had to teach tech skills. The KidBlog interface is pretty good, but there are some negative points – like it’s difficult for parents to log in originally because they actually have to create a profile before being able to comment. I went to an EdTech half day conference at another local international school and learned that they were using Easy Blog Jr. I was jealous. It seemed so much easier than what I was doing! I like that with Easy Blog Jr. it’s just a link they click.
Here is a table that lists the ease of use of many different blogs for education.
Easy Blog Jr
Easy Blog Jr is an amazing iPad or tablet application for lower primary students to share their work through pictures with audio captions, video, typing or audio recognition text posts. This application is not available for computers, and is easy enough for a 2 or three year old to use. The most interesting part, though, is that it can be used by much older children for simple video blogs too! The school I saw it in use at used it from Kindergarten until Grade 6. It was amazing because the platform was a little less strict than Kidblog, and families from all over the world were getting instant notifications when their granddaughters or nephews were making video post reflections about their learning. I saw a post of a kindergarten student counting to 20 in both Chinese and English with the proudest face ever, and a grade 6 student reading a poem he had written that day at school.
Easy Blog Jr seems like it is a bit more instant. It’s more focused on getting ideas out there, than the writing aspect.
Easy Blog Jr can be used with only one iPad in the classroom because the classroom interface is completely integrated.
KidBlog is an amazing online tool that is both an application for a tablet or iPad as well as a fully operational website for computer access. The iPad application needs to have some updates as our videos took too long to upload and some of the functions were difficult to find or poorly placed.
Kidblog on the computer was great for our class but took a lot of work to set up. Once running, the kids REALLY enjoyed reflecting on their work, or special events in our classroom. We used Skype in the Classroom quite a bit, so they liked reflecting on what they learned through guest speakers.
In our classroom, we used KidBlog exclusively on the laptops and exclusively for writing reflections about previous learning experiences. I had a table sticker chart on the wall with names of students on the left side and blank boxes along the top. After we did something noteworthy in our class, one member of the class (or me) would write down the topic along the top. When it was time to blog students would check to see the list of things we had accomplished in our class since the last time we blogged in the class, and would independently choose their own topic to write about. They understood where to find the photos I took of that event on the school server and they had the tech sense to be able to locate the photo, upload it, reflect on it, tag it, categorise it, and comment on other student’s work.
Kidblog was used as a PYP portfolio at the end of the year and students went through all of their blog posts with their parents in a student-led conference.
The only real problem with a platform that is so safe and closed to the outside world is that after the year of blogging, my students had SO many articles and reflections that just disappeared when the new year started and the class blog was archived. There’s a way to bring forward blogs each year, but you really need a ‘tech guy’ for that.
In all, my experience blogging was extremely provocative and gave the quiet students a real chance to shine. Because all comments are teacher-censored, it was tedious until I opened it up and stopped checking after a while.
An introduction to different Blogging Apps:
How to use Easy Blog Jr:
An introduction to Kidblog:
Creating your first post in Kidblog: