4Cs of Student Blogs in Elementary School

Five years ago, Konard Glogowski shared his experiences with blogs in the high-school classroom and described the Ripple Effect as a method to facilitate reflective talk with students and help them become evolving writers. It amazes me that today his post still has the ripple effect on readers, myself included! It is a thought-provoking, want-to-do-the-right thing kind of a post that inspires me to reflect on my teaching craft. If the focus of blogging is not mechanics of writing, then what matters? Since secondary and elementary levels are quite different, I’ve started thinking of what Glogowski-style blogging would look like in an elementary school. My ideas have shaped into 4 Cs of blogging in elementary grades. 
 
First C is for Connections…Writing a blog challenges students to search and connect with a topic. Blog writing is not journaling about events in one’s life, but thinking about information and connecting it with personal experiences (Richardson, 2010). Such writing requires critical thinking skills (Educational Origami refers to them as Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy): searching for information, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating multiple texts, and contributing new ideas by writing them in a blog.  
 
Second C is for Clarity…Writing down own thoughts may be easy, but formulating them in a clear and well-organized manner is usually a challenge for many elementary students. We teach organization and structure of many writing genres required by Common Core Standards and make students practice them in writing journals. Writing a blog makes writing process relevant and meaningful. Students write with a real audience in mind, and, therefore, they are interested in making themselves understood and excepted. With specific, targeted feedback from teachers and peers, students incline to revise, reorganize, and clarify their blog entries.  
 
Third C is for Comments…As I mentioned in my last blog post, comments are the pulse of blogging. This is when real teaching and learning take place. As teachers or students comment on each other’s posts, they become a part of “connective writing”, and that’s when the true learning begins (Richardson, 2010). While writing or reading comments on blogs, students revise their thinking, ask questions, clarify their thoughts, and become passionate experts of the topic. The Ripple Effect is what makes blogging a powerful tool for teaching and learning writing process. 
 
Fourth C is for Conventions…Of course, writing online should include correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Students should learn to revise and edit their blog posts multiple times before letting them go “live”. In addition, blog has its specific conventions that students need to learn to understand and integrate: good title, tags, properly hyperlinked sources, and references. 

Based on the 4 Cs described above, I developed a rubric that can be used to assess student blogs posts and comments in elementary classrooms : 

References

Educational Origami. (n.d). Rubrics – Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Rubrics+-+Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy 

Franker, K. (2012). A rubric for evaluating student blogs.Retrieved from https://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/blog_rubric_revised.pdf

Long, C. (n.d). Blogging scoring rubric.Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/cpl2/blogs/cplportfolio/Blogging%20Scoring%20Rubric.pdf

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. California: Corwin A SAGE Company.

Richardson, W. (n.d). Retrieved September 6, 2013 from the Will Richardson’s Wiki: http://weblogged.wikispaces.com