Sunday, January 22, 2012

Student Science Blogs


This year, I began a new project that many teachers have been afraid to bring into their classroom: blogging.  I have learned from my experiences implementing blogging as an instructional tool and would love to share with you!

First, I set up my class blog on http://kidblog.org/.  You just click on Create a Class, then make your account and you're ready.  I added my students to the Users page with their own login names and passwords that correspond with their district IDs. 

Then, I wrote the Blog Rules and published them for students to review and went over them as a class.

There are rules in life for everything, including blogging!
Five Blog Rules
1. Be respectful of others.
2. Write how you write at school, not how you would text.  Use capital letters, punctuation, and spell words the best you can.  (Don’t do this: rite how u rite at skool not how u wud txt)
3. Leave nice comments for people.  If someone explained something well, tell them.  If someone has a good idea, let them know.
4. Be clear when you write.  Make sure you read over it before you post a blog.
5. Have fun and share your ideas!  

 I made a Frequently Asked Questions page and went over it with the kids.
Do you enjoy writing and want to write another science post just for fun?  Here’s some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When can I blog?
1. in the computer lab during free time
2. before school with teacher permission
3. at the end of the day with teacher permission
4. at home with parents’ permission
What do I write about?
Excellent question.  You may write about anything related to science that interests you.  Here are some ideas:
1. Take what you wrote in your science journal and type it into a blog entry.
2. Describe an interesting lab you completed.  Give details and include what you observed and learned!
3. Create a study sheet with vocabulary and main ideas.
4. Ask a science question you’re interested in knowing the answer to.  Maybe your classmates will comment and help you find the answer.
5.  Give a book review on one of the books in the Science Books section of the classroom library. Include the title, author, what it’s about, and if you recommend it.
What should my blog post look like?
Blogs don’t have to be long, but be sure to include important information.  It should be interesting to others and be easy to read.  Don’t include a lot of different colors or make the font too big or too small.
What if I’m not inspired to write?
Go through and read your classmates’ posts and leave comments.
How can I get my classmates to comment?
The more interesting or helpful your post is, the more likely you are to get comments.  Be original and do your best!

I wrote a post to guide students on commenting on the work of others.
Things to do when commenting:
1. Be specific.  If you like something, tell WHY!  You can say, “I like that you ____________”
2. You can ask the blogger a question about what they wrote.  Ask how, when, where, or why.
3. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask them to explain it further.
4. Be kind with your words.
5. Add to the post with your comment.  If you have some information or an opinion to add, please leave it as a comment.
The first assignment I had the kids write after showing them the site was to write what they like about science.  Then, I allowed them to read each other's blogs and comment on them.  (I moderate the posts and comments and must see them before they are published.)  I also went through and wrote to the students asking them questions, and had them go back and respond to me.  
Since then, students have written book reviews on science trade books, reflected on a science field trip, researched and blogged about science careers, wrote lab reports, and asked and answered questions.
Positives: communication skills, community members comment and guide students, creating a dialogue between students, allowing the teacher to find strengths and misconceptions, excitement from the students
Negatives: grammar and spelling errors can interfere with communicating the ideas, not enough time, not enough computers
After several months with a science blog, it is certainly beneficial for helping to motivate my students and helping them develop their writing and thinking skills.  I will do another post with blogging ideas soon!
-The Science Penguin

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