Firstly, thank you kindly for all of your wonderful comments on my blog to date. I have tried my best to respond to everyone and have I feel honoured to be in a position where I can blog about teaching and resources I use and love!
For a task in my Web 2.0 module two weeks ago, we were put into our Quadblogging groups once again and asked to review a blogging platform for secondary schools. (Check out my fellow Quadbloggers @5j16MsDunne @5j16RETeacher @5j16msdoyle or check out their blogs on my previous post about Quadblogging here)
Our group reviewed Kidblog, which has over 5 million users and used the following questions as a guide when discussing, reviewing and presenting it to our peers.
- What is blogging and why do we use it in schools?
- What should a blog have to make it user friendly and school friendly?
- What is KidBlog what features does it have?
- What are the limitations or drawbacks to Kidblog? What is it missing?
I have attached our presentation on Kidblog and why we would recommend it for schools here; General presentation.
I have just finished using Kidblog with two First Year Computer Studies classes over four weeks and they seemed to have really enjoyed it. I began blogging on Kidblog with the classes because of the task to review it for my Masters. I thought why not actually use the blog and give my peers feedback in a practical way so I did! However, I decided to wait to do this blog post until I finished using it fully so I could give you all my honest opinion.
When introducing Kidblog, I would recommend showing the students a presentation on blogging first (i.e what it is and what it is used for etc) to introduce Kidblog in the classroom. We had a class discussion after the presentation and the students were excited to get started. I have attached the presentation on Blogging that I used here for anyone to download and use.
When you start Kidblog , you get a FREE 30 day trial. As I only had these two first year groups for four weeks (as it is a sample module) – this trial was perfect for me. After the 30 day trial, there is a fee to use the site. However, at the moment, there is a special teacher’s rate with 20% off. If you are thinking about introducing blogging to your school, you might want to contact Kidblog for a special teacher group discount if it is a whole school initiative or if there are a few teachers on board that are interested in purchasing Kidblog. (Compared to some other blogging platforms, Kidblog is one of the sites that is not blocked in schools!)
The actual website is very easy to use and to navigate on for teachers and students. The students have the option to sign up with/without an email and a password. They will then receive a class code. However, if they are logging in – they simply enter their email and their class will come up and they are on their class page. One difficulty, I found was the class entering the class code numerous times and a new profile was being created each time. In order to avoid this, just ask the students to log in / search for their class by their email. This will direct them to a Log in screen where they click on their name and enter their password (shown in the picture below) and their profile will appear.
The students I have worked with have blogged about school events, subjects, Christmas and their account of First Year so far. They liked commenting on one another’s blogs and always posted supportive and encouraging comments.
As a teacher, you have full control of the site and can edit and modify comments/posts. You get emails from the site about the users and can manage classes and names easily on this. You can manage the privacy settings which is very important. Your portfolio keeps a record of your classes and your posts and it is easy to use.
Also, it is always important to remember to assess the students on their work as it helps them. I have kept an activity report on each student through the blogging process and I assessed them at the end of the module. I keep a Daily Journal which helps me to reflect on the lesson and any changes I would make for the next lesson. (For example issues with passwords/computers or tasks assigned).
I asked the students to grade one another through the method of two stars and a wish which is whereby the students comment on two things they enjoyed about the blog and a wish for the next blog post for example; more images.
At the end of the four weeks, I have printed out blog posts from the students and as a class, we are making them into one big poster including why students should blog for the Computer Room 🙂
The feedback on Kidblog was very positive from the students as a class group.
Blogging is cross curricular with all subjects and is so beneficial for students learning and classroom engagement. It also incorporates the Six Key Skills at Junior Cycle, the 24 statements of learning and makes a pathway for the new Digital Strategy. It is also fantastic for a teacher’s professional development in the classroom. I could list the advantages for blogging all day here! For any teacher nervous about starting up Kidblog, it is extremely easy to use when you get going and all it takes is some time and consistent practice!
As always, let me know what you think 🙂 Happy Blogging! 🙂