Archive of ‘Blogging’ category

From Table Blogging to Kidblog!

Years ago, when we first started blogging with students, I always started with paper blogs and comments to help students focus on what makes a quality blog and a thoughtful, helpful comment. With our fantastic whiteboard table tops, why not blog directly on the tables before we move to Kidblog?

For the second graders, this is a new experience for them. And, although our third and fourth graders have been blogging since second grade, it’s always a good idea to review at the beginning of each year. Before any writing, we brainstormed what makes a quality post:

  • interesting details
  • catchy title
  • proper punctuation and capitalization
  • spelling (won’t be perfect but a good effort should be made)

We talk about T.H.I.N.K. and how important it is to ALWAYS be polite online!


Fairy Tale Characters Offer Advice

As a culmination to the second grade fairy tale unit, I asked the students to blog. With the following choices, the children came up with some rather humorous posts!

  • Tell about your favorite fairy tale story. Why did you choose this?
  • Which fairy tale character would you like to be and why?
  • Choose 2 fairy tale characters and write an advice letter from one to another.

Here are some of the clever posts!

Salvaging a Lesson When Plans Unravel!

You build a great lesson to get students on their Kidblog account for the first time ever and, as soon as kids start logging in, you realize there’s trouble! Weeks ago, I’d uploaded all the students with their passwords and had logged in as each one to get them in their new class. Well, I forgot one major detail – Kidblog now forces every user to change their password when they first log in! Yes, I understand the reasoning behind it. But, really, for second graders?? What happened to the old days not that long ago when the blog administrator could get everyone set up and ready to go for students to log in seamlessly? Sure made life much easier.

So, in a quick switch of plans, I pulled out the QR codes for the class to log into Seesaw. This was as the teacher was saying, “We can just forget lab time today.”

Hey, if a tech teacher isn’t flexible, there are many lessons that would never be taught!

The plan had been to write emoji “About Me” stories in Kidblog. We just moved to a different app to do so. Talk about a quick write! But, the students did a fantastic job and I learned a whole lot more about each student while reading their cute stories.

Despite a rough start where nothing worked as planned, all were engaged and successful with the quick change to plan B!

Table Blogging

What is more fun than writing on a table? You sure can’t do that at home – at least it probably shouldn’t be done!. This year, new round tables with a whiteboard surface were purchased for the Digital Learning Lab and the students could not wait to start writing!

To take advantage of the desire to write on the tables, we chose table blogging as a way to prepare for our online blogs.

First, we brainstormed traits that make a post one that people will want to read. 

The topic, because everyone enjoys food, was:  Favorite Food. Students were to consider these questions as they wrote:

  • Why do you like this food?
  • Where is the best place to get it? or “Who makes it”

The students set to work, making everyone hungry in the process!

When all were finished, we moved on to comments. Several years ago, I heard someone talk about penny vs dollar comments. Just as a penny doesn’t buy anything, a penny comment is basically worthless. It may be only one or two words. It doesn’t provide any feedback for the author. What we want to do as a commenter is to continue the conversation. A dollar (and up!) comment provides helpful feedback (I always have to say that does not mean you correct spelling!), asks questions, makes connections. It’s more than just a sentence!

To comment, we play a quick version of musical chairs. The students walk around then sit as soon as I have them stop. They are told to read the post as well as any comments that have already been written before writing anything. We do this about three times. Finally, they return to their seat to read their comments. I ask them to reply to at least one of their comments.

To wrap up everything, we discuss the types of comments received (without naming names). I want the students to determine the “value” of the comment mentioned and, if worth a penny, how it could be improved to become worth a dollar.

We hope this exercise will transfer to online blogs!

Here’s a sample of 4th graders working on their blogs and comments. 

More Table Blogging Videos: 

Rocket Fuel!

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to visit a science class as students experimented with the various ratios of vinegar and baking soda to create “rocket fuel.” Students were to measure the materials and combine in a clear plastic film canister. The lid had to be popped on quickly in order for the ingredients to mix and send the “rocket” into the air.

There was so much excitement in the room. However, the best part was to watch “failure” occur. NO ONE became angry even when they had repeated failures. Most involved not being able to snap the lid in place quickly enough. What a learning experience!

The students always reflect on their experiments but I thought we’d take it a step further. The children were asked to blog and write a reflection of their experience.

  • What combinations of baking soda and vinegar did their group try?
  • What were the challenges?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?

These were some of the best posts I’ve had from these students in a long time!

Here are some samples. To read more, click here then click on a fourth grade teacher’s name.

I really like the next one because it’s obvious this group suffered failures. After visiting with the girls, they also showed resilience!

Lesson learned –> Make SURE the blog topic is something that is exciting to the students!

Blogging with a Twist

img_6687Although our students have been blogging since first grade, I always like to have the fourth graders start off with a paper blogging activity. After working with this age over a number of years, I’ve discovered that many become lax in their posts and comments; submitting writing that isn’t their best!

The paper blogging idea is not my own but comes from a post entitled, Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs, by Leonard Low. He used it with teachers to show that blogging is a “powerful strategy for empowering and engaging learners.”

Usually, the paper blogging takes two 40-minute sessions but I only had the students for one 30 minute class so it was a challenge to fit everything in, but we did it! We began with a quick review of what is okay to share and what should be kept private.

From the time we began blogging in first grade, I’ve discussed penny vs dollar comments/posts so the children can quickly tell me that just as a penny is worth hardly anything, penny writing is just as worthless. A penny comment might be only one word. Or it could be something like “great” or “wow” – words that don’t really tell anything to the writer. Penny posts lack detail or don’t make sense. Dollar posts paint a picture for the reader; adding details that help the reader make connections. Dollar comments ask questions, make specific compliments, keep the conversation going.

Using the food idea from Mr. Low’s post, I asked the students to think about their favorite food. What was it? Where was the best place to get it (home, restaurant)? What made it so special? I gave them 10 minutes to write and most were able to finish.


We then discussed tags. Everyone could tag this as “food” and then they could add additional tags.

The next step was commenting. Each student had 3 sticky notes. They were to move around the room till I told them to stop. Once at that spot, they were to read the post then write a comment on the sticky note.


Normally, we’d have time for 4 or 5 comments but with our shortened class period, two was the limit. The third sticky note was for each student to return to their post to respond to one of their comments.


An important part of the lesson is to discuss the quality of comments. I asked for volunteers to share what they considered to be “dollar” comments. And, there were many! We then moved on to “penny” comments with the rule that no names should be shared. As this was discussed, we also brainstormed how to transform a penny comment to a dollar one.


I’m eager to see if the quality seen in the paper blogging transfers to our online blogs next week!



Sharing What We Learn: Biographies

Mrs. Shapard’s second graders have been studying biographies. She wanted to find a way that students could share what they learned with others. We decided to use the Book Creator app because of its user-friendly interface.

Because we didn’t want this project to drag on, I did a couple of tasks to help with the workflow. First, I set up the books for the students. That took no longer that twenty minutes or so. Next, I collected photos from the public domain for the children. Finding copyright-friendly images is very time consuming for students, especially the younger ones. These were posted to my Picasa albums so they could be saved to their iPad. I gave an age-appropriate explanation of copyright so students would understand it’s not okay to use any image they find on the web!

In the classroom, students collected information and drew a picture of the person they were studying. They brought this to the lab so it could be added to their book.

Because we want the students to post the information to their blog, the books were saved as videos. One thing we learned is that the students tend to forget to delete a recording if they decide to re-record. What happens when saved as a video is that ALL recordings are heard! We had to go back and fix a few – a good learning experience . . .

We’re eager for next week when we’ll post videos to our blogs.

Here is one of the videos:

Checking for Comments

First graders were thrilled to check their blog for comments after posting their ChatterPix Kids noun video. (see previous post)

Kee 1

We had some amazing writing going on as the children read what parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even our 4th graders wrote.

blog response

Thanks to thoughtful comments from relatives and other students, these first graders are so excited to be sharing their work with an authentic audience!

Paper Blogging

With each grade level, we always discuss quality blog posts and comments. By the time students reach 4th grade, there is a tendency to “let up” a bit with their on-line writing. Paper blogging is a fun way to review the importance of quality writing!

A few years ago, I found a post by Leonard Low called Workshop Activity: Paper Blogging. He came up with this idea to demonstrate to teachers what blogs are and how they can be a powerful tool for engaging students. This was one of those, “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that!” moments.

Knowing that students who enter a lab want to use technology and if they don’t, feel short-changed; I decided to endure their disappointment and give it a try. After doing this for several years, there has not been ONE complaint from the children! They love this activity!

Before writing begins, we brainstorm what makes a quality post. Students come us with ideas such as: details, interesting sentences, good spelling, proper punctuation and capitalization. Since most of the children have been blogging since first grade, they know my favorite question is:

  • “Is this a penny post (or comment) or is this a dollar one?”

We all know a penny can’t buy anything so we’re looking for more valuable writing. The students are quick to say that a $20 post is even better!

We start with the food topic (Perfect topic for hungry students ready for their after school snack!). The students are asked to name their blog, add a title, write about their favorite food (what is it, where do they get it, . . .), add a tag, and illustrate the food. This generally takes one 40 minute class period.


Writing the post

The next step is commenting with sticky notes. I randomly send students to different “blog spots” where they stop to read the post then write a comment.

The comment rotation

The comment rotation

Once finished, they are sent to another spot where they must read the post and the comment. They can choose to respond to the post by placing the sticky note on the side of the paper blog OR they can respond to the comment by adding the note to the bottom of the actual comment.

Adding comments

Adding comments

We do this type of rotation four times. Then I ask the children to return to their blog post, read the comments and choose to respond to one.

The final step in the lesson is to debrief. Without sharing names, students gave examples of penny and dollar comments and why they categorized them as they did. We talked about anonymous comments and how perplexing those can be. (We all like to know who the author is!!) This was an excellent discussion and I’m eager to see their thoughts and ideas transferred to their on-line blogs!

Paper Blog Example

Paper Blog Example


Summer Technology Challenge

TVS teachers – this is just for you!

This is a summer where you can’t go up to school so, here is a challenge for you should you decide to work from home. Have some fun exploring new technologies or spend time learning even more about ones you already know. Below are ideas to help you get started.

kidblogKidblog (free app although we have the upgraded subscription) – Use our TVS Lower School blog to start posting and/or commenting on others’ posts. You are able to use Kidblog from a computer as well as an iPad. On an iPad, you’ll need to set up the class. Open the app and tap on settings. Choose Add a Class then Login to Kidblog. The Class URL is TVSLowerSchool. Once you’ve typed that, your username will show up at the bottom of the screen. Click Kidblog setup on app for directions.

This would be a great place to post what you are learning about this summer, vacations, favorite books, or anything else you would like to share! If you create anything with apps, post that to your blog! Remember, if you can save to photos, you can post it on a blog! Click What can be posted? for samples.

book creatorBook Creator ($4.99) – In addition to saving as ePub books (to read in iBooks), did you know that Book Creator now allows exporting content as videos? This is great for sharing with families who don’t have iOS devices.

Create a book about you to share with your new students. Export as a video and upload to Vimeo. (Email me if you need the log in information.) Or, create an ePub book about a topic you want your students to learn. Make the book interactive by adding hyperlinks (Hint: This is accomplished in the Add Text section. Tap and select word then choose link.)

To learn more about Book Creator’s features, click here. Follow Book Creator on Pinterest for lots of ideas!

coding appsCoding Apps – I grouped these together because they are all excellent for computational thinking. Programming teaches children to problem-solve and think creatively. For more background on the reasons to learn to program, read this article, It’s Time for Every Students to Learn to code.

  • Kodable (app and web-based; free; paid school version allows deeper exploration) – coding curriculum for elementary ages
  • Lightbot and Lightbot Jr  (average cost per app $2.99; Jr for ages 4-8; Lightbot for ages 9+) Teaches programming logic through puzzles.
  • Scratch Jr (free) ages 5-7 – drag and drop coding blocks where students can program interactive stories and games

draw and tellDraw and Tell HD ($1.99) – So much more than a drawing app, Draw & Tell allows children to illustrate something, record their voice telling about it (orally share their thinking), and then share with others. Our students typically share to their blog. The app was created for ages 5 and younger but first and second graders would enjoy the app and find it very easy to use.

How would you incorporate the Draw & Tell app? What topics could students share? Would this be something you could use for students to show their understanding of a concept?

EEExplain Everything ($2.99) – This my favorite screen casting app for ages 8+! Yes, it has a learning curve but it is extremely powerful and there is SO much you can do with it. The app developer’s web site has excellent video tutorials for you to view.

Play around with the various tools in the app. Practice recording and drawing at the same time. Since Explain Everything isn’t as intuitive as other screen casting apps, students will need some practice but I’ll be glad to help with that.

Click here to see how Mrs. Wideen uses EE in her class. How could you use this with your children?

Adobe VoiceAdobe Voice (free) – “Show Your Story” is how this app is described. The user adds photos and narration and produces a short video that can be shared. To use with children under age 13, the teacher must create either a class account or individual accounts (By law, students under age 13 can not create their own account).

This is a quick and easy way for students to “tell” their story, save to photos, and share to their blog. Create your own story and post it this summer!

Adobe slateAdobe Slate (free) – Create a story with a magazine-type layout. Add images and text. You’ll need a class account (see Adobe Voice). This app doesn’t have recording but it can be a great writing activity.

mycreate appMy Create ($4.99) – Students capture a series of photos then create a stop-motion video. Audio can also be recorded.

Think about all that you can do with this! I’ve used it for Lego building but what about keeping track of a plant’s growth? Or, chick eggs waiting to hatch? Or, take photos of trees as they go from bare to covered with full-sized leaves.poppletPopplet (lite is free; full version $4.99) – A visual mindmap for students, Popplet is easy to use. Students can add images and facts to help organize information. Work in groups and have each member add their own facts. Export as JPEG and upload to the blog. Try the free version and let me know if you would use this in your classroom.

App Smashing – combining two or more apps to create a product. Read Unleashing Creativity: Greg Kulowiec App Smashing for a wealth of information. Since he coined the phrase, he truly is the guru of this!

Try your hand at app smashing.

  • Make videos using Adobe Voice and My Create. Save to photos. Join these together in iMovie and upload to the blog. If it’s too large, upload to Vimeo (refer to my email for log in info) and either provide the link on your blog or embed the video. (Note: When embedding a video on the blog, I always find it easier to work on a desktop to that I can choose the HTML option from the New Post window. Then I just paste the embed code.)
  • Make a book in Book Creator. Export as a video. Create a screen cast using either Draw & Tell or Explain Everything related to the book. Pull all together in iMovie. You can even make an introduction in one of the screen casting apps. In iMovie, just split the Book Creator clip, delete the cover that you had previously made in that app, and insert the new introduction.
  • Create a written story in Adobe Slate. Bring that into Adobe Voice to provide narration.
  • Make a collage with the Pic Collage app (Did you know that there is a new Pic Collage Kids?) and import that into Adobe Voice for adding narration.

More Resources:

Something to Think About:

At some point you’ll need to upload student work to a cloud storage space. Check out Google Drive – 15 GB free storage. Create folders for work that is uploaded. Make the file free, get a link, share with parents.

Web-Based Programs to Explore:

  • Unite For Literacy – free storybooks for primary grades
  • Wonderopolis – view a “Wonder of the Day” each day; students can research within the web site

I gave you lots of information with enough details to make your head spin! The best way to learn is just jump in and explore. Use your experiences over the summer to create anything you want. It doesn’t have to relate to school! I’m eager to see your creations!


Have fun!!

1 2