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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Workshop Wednesday {Website sharing from the Past!}

I am linking up for Workshop Wednesday with my amazing, super talented BBB, Jivey, at Ideas by Jivey!  The topic this week is Wonderful Websites and Apps. Jivey has Alison from Rockin and Lovin Learnin (LOVE her!) as a guest blogger today. Check out her post at Ideas by Jivey!
I am totally cheating with my post tonight. When I saw the topic, I couldn't help but think about how much I enjoyed using Kidblog last year with my ELA students. By looking back at these past posts, I might just get the motivation I need to get the ball rolling this year with Kidblog. It has been a huge change being departmentalized and I think that I haven't wanted to tackle fifty student accounts on Kidblog yet. However, I know that they would love it so I will introduce it soon (hey, we go to school until June 27th so I still have plenty of time!). :)
I forgot that my very first "Tried It Tuesday" was about Kidblog! My eyes almost popped out of my head when I realized that the post was written almost one year ago! 
Where does the time go? 
Anyway, here is me cheating and sharing some of my past experiences with Kidblog...

October, 2012
So, Kidblog has been on my to-do list since this summer when I first read about it in bloggy land.  Last night I finally decided to get it up and running.  I was nervous about how it would work out, but let me tell you that it was a smashing success!!  The students were buzzing with excitement when they found out what we were doing in the computer lab (24 ELA kiddos).  It was the GOOD kind of quiet buzz and excited talking, not the crazy chaos of excitement like when our crayfish arrive in the classroom:)  haha!

I demonstrated the steps to login on kidblog first on my SMART board and then we went over to the lab.  I made a post about the novel we read, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

This was their assignment:

Hi students!  For our very first blog discussion, I would like to know what you thought of  the book we just read, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing!  
Share your rating of the book on a scale of 1 to 10 and at least one favorite part of the book as well as one least favorite part.  Use details from the story to explain your answer and your blog entry must be at LEAST four sentences for your first comment.  You may come back later and comment on other student’s comments if you follow good classroom blog etiquette.
  • Include a topic sentence
  • Include a rating 1-10
  • Include a favorite part with details
  • Include a least favorite part with details
  • Include a conclusion
Have fun blogging!
Mrs. Snyder:)

Here are the screenshots of the page with my post:

Next, I wrote an example entry (in yellow) of what I would expect as an excellent response.

Students' comments were not displayed until I "approved" them as the admin of the kidblog.  This was tedious during class because I wanted students who finished theirs to be able to read other comments but that meant I had to have my computer open and approve comments.  It worked out well though because the students were so engaged that they were not raising their hands asking for help and were very independent.  Students did have to "refresh" the page to see the newly approved comments and many did not know how to do that.

The gray is a comment from a student on another student's reply to my post.  They loved this!

 My favorite part was that tonight I read all my students' comments (at least 4 sentences) about how they felt about the book and I replied to each one of them!  I would much rather type than handwrite and I gave them pointers and praise for their work!  My reply is in blue because I checked the little box to keep my reply private to everyone except the author of the comment.  Genius!!

 My students can go back tomorrow, read my reply, and then make the changes by easily "editing" their post!

When students are directed to the URL of your kidblog page, they simply select their name from a pull down bar.  The teacher enters all the student names in advance and sets the password.

I made all the passwords something they already use and it was SO easy to login!!  The blog is completely PRIVATE to the public and you need to login to see a post!  

I cannot tell you how engaged the students were and the excitement of learning that was taking place.  The students really worked on making a good topic sentence and using details too!  If you haven't checked out using blogs in your classroom, I highly recommend it.  I am going to incorporate it into a Work on Writing choice sometimes in my ELA class.

March 26, 2013 (First Tried It Tuesday)
I was super excited to use kidblog this year in my classroom!  See my post original post here.
There was a lot of buzz about this in the blogging world last summer.
I am STILL excited about using this tool in my classroom...
It is an amazing (FREE) site and the students do LOVE it!
My problem is that I haven't used it since January.
Every year after Christmas, the panic sets in.  The test is only a few months away!
Do students get to type on the test?
Did Kidblog take a big chunk of time when we used it?
Yes, definitely at the beginning.  The students want to add an avatar and make their page customized.  They want to comment on their classmates blogs.  Who cares if what they write is meaningful? hmmm...It was like a chat room and that was not how I envisioned it!
 Part of me was so excited that they were excited and another part of me was thinking, this is taking forever!  Only a couple students were tech savvy enough to do make an avatar on their own (without asking me first!) and then everyone wanted an avatar.  So, being the nice teacher I am and not wanting to squash their excitement, I walked them through going to photoshop to make an avatar.  
Well, we were in the lab, and if you have ever taught in a computer lab while the students are on the computer, it is quite a challenge when you are not used to it!
Anyway, one tweak I made to Kidblog (when we were using it) is this post to my students:
As I sit here on a lovely Sunday afternoon watching a Bills game and reading your progress on the November Book Reviews, I am compelled to write about a few issues I have seen occurring on our blog.

1.  Please do not use neon yellowblue, or green for colors when writing your posts or comments.  It is too difficult to read on the monitors.
2.  You must write using CUPS as you would on paper.  The computer alerts you when a word is misspelled by underlining it in red.  So, why am I seeing so many spelling errors?
3.  Using proper CUPS means that we do not use 5 exclamation points or 3 question marks instead of one on your posts.  
4.  Don't forget that you will be graded on your book review and this includes proper use of CUPS.  There is a time and place to use texting shortcuts but our blog for ELA is not one of them.
5.  I will be developing a rubric to grade your use of kidblog over the course of a semester (starting this 2nd quarter since the 1st quarter is over).  If you stick to clean, meaningful comments and posts using proper CUPS, then you will receive an A for this writing grade. 

Here is a sample book review from Jackson that is a great model for what I expect.
Title: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: fantasy
What is this book about?  The book is about Percy Jackson who goes on a quest to save his best friend Grover. Grover is trapped on an island that is home to a cyclops. Percy also has to go to the island to get a golden fleece to save Camp Half-Blood.
What is my favorite part?  My favorite part is when Percy finds out that he has a half brother that is also a cyclops. He found he was a cyclops in the second chapter of the book. His name is Tyson.
What is my overall recommendation and why?  My overall recommendation is that it is a great book and read it if you like fantasy stories or Greek Mythology.

We discussed my post above in great detail as a class using the SMART board.  
BUT, I still get students who like to test me (as if I won't see it eventually...the teacher has to approve all comments before they are visible).  
These comments are waiting to be approved:  
That might be REALLY flattering (THE BEST YEAR EVER....), but it goes against my rules!  I also love how they capitalized "LARGE" but not "john".  Yep, that has to go!
I am not "trashing" the comments yet because when we go back to the lab, I will bring this screen up and give the students a friendly reminder of what NOT to do:)  
It just bothers me because in the time it takes them to write the obnoxious amounts of characters, they could be doing something more educational.  I know kids will be kids...

The last post I had the students write about was their New Year's Resolutions.  They all worked on them at different times during Work on Writing (I have four computers in my classroom).  They had to write about two resolutions, one for home and one for their writing.
The students have done a nice job overall and I may finally get around to grading all of the entries over my spring break:)  It takes hours to go through each assignment, make comments, and approve comments from other students.  It is worth it though.  The students love to see the notes from the teacher and their classmates!
And another...same student who didn't follow the rules about the exclamation points is writing in neon green...a no, no in my rules:)  Again, spending too much time on making the text look like a rainbow instead of proofreading.
Reading these posts again have me inspired to get the ball rolling on Kidblog this year. 
There are so many wonderful websites and apps out there that it is overwhelming at times to keep up! Now I am off to check out more websites and apps at Ideas by Jivey!


  1. Oh...Alison loves you too! So...I signed all of my kids up for Kidblog, showed them how to use it and guess what...those stinkers were not into it all....SERIOUSLY? How does that even happen? Okay....I lied. Two of them were excited. I THINK the reason why was....I've introduced so many things to them, they forget about stuff. I need to do a throwback and get them pumped back up for it. You have inspired me to tackle it again!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Great idea!! Thanks so much!!

  3. I will add this to my list of things to start next year! This year has got "enough." LOL!! Thanks for sharing this!
    ideas by jivey
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