I just finished reading Will Richardson's book which gave some nice thoughts on the pedagogy of blogs. I am getting ready to institute blogging in my fourth grade classroom for the first time, and would love some feedback on a couple of issues I am stuck on:

He says that complex blogging is "extended analysis and synthesis over longer periods of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments." Journaling ("this is what I did today"), on the other hand, is not blogging. Yet, as I visit most elementary blogs and see what kids are writing, it is mostly journaling and poetry; not the analytical, connective blogging that is going to result in the most powerful learning.

Are elementary school students just not able to do this kind of learning? I think they can. Obviously not on the same level as a high school student or adult, but I think they can start to stretch their synthesis muscles if we teach them.

My question is, what would this type of complex blogging look like for elementary students (are there examples?)? How can we as teachers scaffold this type of powerful blogging and learning?

Tags: blogging, elementary, pedagogy

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Great questions. My seniors have difficulty with this too, the extended building and synthesizing. I think they have been conditioned to answer the teacher's question/prompt, then move on. It's too bad, but they are accustomed to as little effort as possible (I have to remember: they're really busy people). The number one way to get what Richardson wants to see: I give them an entire 50-minute class session and require that they blog the whole time. They earn credit for thoughtfulness and amount/number of post(s). They need time to collaborate, just like we do if we are to learn anything from Classroom 2.0 here.
Ask students to make as many cross-curricular connections as possible. They all care about something that is relevant. Mine: scholarlynx.blogspot.com.
I am not sure if elementary students are capable of this yet. I know that my sixth graders certainly weren't. I used blogs this year and was totally disappointed in the results.

However, I did find that the blogs were an excellent tool for practicing writing and revision. In fact, our scores on the writing test was the highest they had ever been. I think that we must remember to scaffold this type of activity for our youngsters.
Any blogging they do in elementary school will help them when they write/publish online in high school and college, where almost every professor these days is requiring online activity.
I see no reason that younger students couldn't critically analyze information. They do need to be taught how to perfrom this kin dof higher level thinking. It is a necessary and authentic part of teaching. What better way to help students exercise and grow seeing other students working together to analyze and synthesize information?
I had a brainstorm over winter break---many elementary kids NEVER do any authentic writing. OK, they write an occassional narrative or what ever it is they have to do for state assessment. BUT rarely do they write on a topic of their interest for other people to read. We've had a class blog for three years and some of the posts are "extended analysis and synthesis over longer periods of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments" (Will Richardson), some are low level chats.

All of my 5th and 6th graders have to blog once a week (at home) but I've decided to raise the bar. I decided that many kids don't know how to write an entry that will evoke discussion or reflection. So just the week we had a long discussion on Bloom's Taxonomy, talked about and gave example of the six levels. Then I used Andrew Churches' Digital Taxonomy blogging rubric and exemplars to show how different posts fall into different levels. Their task over the next week is to write a thought-provoking post that will generation discussion and reflection--and so far I'm very pleased. (Prizes will be given!!) If you want to see the results start at Recent Posts to see who's blogging about what.

I do wonder if fourth grade is too young for high level posts and comments---I teach gifted kids and what I notice about the difference between the 4th graders and the older kids is the 4th graders are still young, immature (as far as social topics), and oblvious to what going on in the world. They are still really self-centered and their worlds can be pretty small.

Another thing I've put in place from the blog's beginnings is "formal" writing, no chat lingo, no text language, no personal "diary" type entries. Let me know if you need any more info.
have a look through andrew churches digital bloom's taxonomy.

this outlines the different purposes to which the same activity can be put.


use this link as a starter...there are weeks of reading here with notes from a practitioner, rather than a theorist



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