Have you taken a look at Weebly.com? It is not blocked by our Websense and it is a free way for students to make their own webpages, plus there is a Blog feature you can add. I was planning on using it towards the end of the year to give the students yet another way of presenting their material.
Hi Antwon, I hope that you can persuade your tech. admin to unblock blog resources for you. Blog sites do allow for moderation and for student anonymity. Blogger and Wordpress are the best blog applications, however, epals has a nice option if you wanted to register and include your entire school or district. All blogs can be private where a log in is necessary for reading and posting. Wordpress also allows for download and installation on a local server. You can host your own blogs with this tool. I hope that you find some of these sites and suggestions helpful.
It is truly a crime for districts to disallow students the right to read and post to blogs. There are many great examples of classroom blogs being integrated from around the world. I hope that you can keep working with your district to allow for many of these very valuable learning tools.
I would suggest using open source blogging software on either an existing school server, or rent inexpensive server space, or even a managed server.
This way, it's yours and it won't be blocked. WordPress and WordPressMu (Multiple Blog Platform) are excellent blogging platforms. Once you have WordPressMu working, you could expand it to a social network using BuddyPress which is built upon WPMU and enable or disable any features you like.
When you use open source, you are in the driver's seat and have great control over the configuration. In addition, you control the data and will never have to worry about advertising or abrupt changes of terms of service. You also can use it with students under 13 years old.
I use gaggle as well. Our former tech coordinator pulled all student email access! After two months, his solution was Gaggle. It was free, and more importantly--he didn't have to worry about it. I took on the job of signing up every kid in my classes for an account.
It is very effective. There is nothing that escapes its filtering system. Kids can't even use mildly coarse language without it being blocked. (I think it even blocked "heck") Well, that's a stretch--but you get the idea...
The blog is neat and a lot of kids, especially those who are verbal--enjoy writing on their blogs.