At the end of last year, I discovered the previously unimagined possibilities that came with blogging in the classroom. My fifth grade students created blogs and utilized the last two months of school to showcase their learning publicly. I was blown away at how meaningful this learning was to my students and I was so excited to continue to learn more.
This year, I’ve been laying the groundwork to start blogging much earlier. I recently began reading Kathy Cassidy’s Connected From the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades. This book has helped reinforce my passion for blogging in the classroom. As I begin diving in to Kathy Cassidy’s advice and expertise, I think about next steps for my fifth graders. Before I go there though, here’s a glimpse of what we’ve accomplished so far.
This year, my students and I have been focusing extensively on media literacy. They’ve been searching for hidden detail and meaning within images, they’ve identified gender biases in marketing, and they’ve viewed election propaganda with a critical eye. They’ve reached a point that they’re beginning to use this new learning in their own personal lives, and I am comfortable moving forward to blogging.
We’ve begun the first steps to blogging and I added on to the digital citizenship learning I focused on last year. This year, I utilized Common Sense Media’s scope and sequence for digital citizenship lessons. My students and I talked about private vs personal information, we talked about cyber-bullying, and we reflected on who can be impacted by what we say and do online. These lessons were more in-depth than what I’d done in the past, but I’m more confident than ever that my students are prepared to be responsible and safe digital citizens.
One of the big differences this year is that I’ve expanded my goal for blogging. This year, I’ve brought in my fifth grade teaching team. This time, every student in fifth grade will be blogging. With the team, I laid out my lessons I had completed and we came up with a game plan as a group for how to begin blogging. This week, we will be analyzing the Digital Citizenship infographic from the ISTE website.
I’ve used this infographic in the past, but this year my team had the excellent idea of printing out the graphic when we finish using it and hanging it up in the classroom for the students to continually reference as the year goes on.
Once we’ve made it through the infographic, my students will create digital citizenship pledges. At this point, I believe they’ll understand the importance of digital citizenship and their digital footprint. After the teaching this week, we’ll be moving on to blogging.
Since we haven’t begun blogging yet, this week I want to focus on the first three chapter’s of Kathy Cassidy’s book. In these chapters, she discusses the importance of blogging and utilizing technology in the classroom to globally connect student learning. I truly believe, as she does, that the benefits and possibilities of blogging can be limitless.
To refrain from rambling, I want to focus on three key pieces from Kathy Cassidy that I will also emphasize with families and my fellow teachers on the importance of blogging.
- Blogging is not additional curriculum – it’s integrated within everything we already do! Many teachers shy away from teaching digital citizenship for fear of having to replace other curriculum. This isn’t the case! Students are already living in a hyper-connected world. As educators, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our students are prepared for this world. Integrating technology into our existing curriculum provides students with meaningful and authentic learning opportunities while preparing them to use technology in their adult lives.
- The importance of audience! Students care more about their writing when they know the writing will be read! When students are asked to continually write just for the eyes of the teacher, they care so much less than knowing that peers, family, or even strangers could be viewing their work! Their sense of ownership increases and their work gains a feeling of true purpose.
- The reputation they carry with them: in today’s world, we cannot expect our students to move into their adult lives without creating a digital footprint. The digital footprint will follow them into college and their careers. At this point, our world expects everyone to have a digital footprint. Students are exposed to technology and begin building that footprint whether or not we guide them through it. I am determined to make sure that my students have guidance when building the footprint and reputation that will ultimately impact their futures.
I am so excited to dive back into blogging this year. This group of students and I have worked together to dig deeper than I had the opportunity to last year. Together we have learned more than I had anticipated and I see so much promise from them as we begin this new chapter!