The Right Tool for the Blog

I want to start blogging with my students and I’m trying to find a good tool too use. This year, I’ll only be blogging with around 20 students, but next year I want to expand it to all 90 students.

Goals:

  • Teach focus and elaboration by having student gear their blog around a specific subject/audience and making each entry interesting (as opposed to my latest blog entries).
  • Encourage voice by having students make editorial and content decision (within reason).
  • Show writing growth.
  • Teach how to respond to writing through polite and appropriate comments.

Considerations:

  • Must be completely monitored-both student posts and comments.
  • Must be able to be made private.
  • Must be able to make separate student accounts without using student email address.
  • Must be easy for students to use.
  • Must be easy for me to grade.

Sites:

Kidblog

  • Pros: No personal info required, free, looks easy to use, all users able to see all new posts on sign-in screen.
  • Cons: Called Kidblog – M.S. kids hate being called kids, immature template look, no individuality.

22 Classes

  • Pros: Can individualize blogs, creates easy hub for class blogs and information.
  • Cons: Limited to only ten free blogs, costs (8.95/month) for additional blogs, students need to give email address.

Gaggle

  • Gaggle offers no easy free solution any more, but gives a phone number for their ad-based one. Not sure if I want ads on student blogs if there is another solution.

Classblogmeister

  • Pros: Offers helpful videos on YouTube,
  • Cons: Hard to navigate, small text makes it hard to read, school pass code required (but easy to get once you figure it out), address for students is long and complicated, not easy to use at all.

Edublogs

  • Pros: Student blogs can be individualized, teacher has complete control over blogs, most like a “real” blog.
  • Cons: Fee for class accounts (from 3.33 per month), no central hub for class.

At the moment, I think I’m between Kidblog and Edublogs.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Right Tool for the Blog

  1. Have you considered a wiki? My wiki is completely private and free. Students don’t have to use an email address to sign in just a username and password that I enter for them, which means I have access. Students can have their own pages. They can open up discussions on their pages for input on their writing, etc. There are class pages that I can ‘lock’ so no one can change them. Only drawback is that the discussions are not threaded. I use wikispaces.

    • hrmason

      I had planned to use a wiki for book reviews and/or maybe a team wiki. I hadn’t thought about it for blogging. Definately worth a look. How many students do you have on each wiki?

  2. I used Kidblog this past school year with my 4th graders (all ELLs) and it went very well. I posted a “task” every Monday, to be completed by Friday. Tasks varied between having to write posts on given topics, commenting on others’ posts, free choice, response to reading, etc. They were pros by the end of the year. The principal had access and would sign in every now and then and was impressed with the “evidence of growth”… 🙂

  3. We used kidblogs for the last six weeks of school and I plan on using it again week one (fifth grade). If I taught MS, I would use edublog, though. Good luck!

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