Blogging About Our Books
One of the major things we have focused on during the past few weeks, in reader's workshop, has been working to make our thinking "visible." We have talked about the differences between "Just Reading" and "Reading to Push Our Thinking." During reader's workshop, we focus on developing the ability to push our thinking past literal comprehension to deeper interpretation and extension. Being able to think beyond the text is a major emphasis in the Common Core State Standards and also something that students often have difficulty demonstrating in the early weeks of fifth grade. Many students come in having experience with responding to their reading when prompted, but my goal is that they will begin to think about their books without needing those prompts.
Students generally LOVE to read, but have trouble seeing the value in writing about their reading. They often demonstrate that they have the ability to think on high levels during class and group discussions. The problem here is, there will never be enough time for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas orally. 5th graders tend to have trouble buying into the whole "Make your thinking visible" concept. I realized that I needed a way to make writing about reading more exciting for them. I realized that blogging was a perfect solution for this.
We began by creating lists of things that we can think/ talk about before, during, and after reading. These ideas range from growing theories about our characters to identifying emerging themes and symbols. All of these things help students to demonstrate their ability to comprehend their books at a higher level. These things are also things students can explore through writing in order to make their thoughts visible to their teachers and their peers.
At the end of every mini-lesson, before students transition into the work-time portion of reader's workshop, I began requiring a 10 minute Write About Reading time. Each day, 5 students would blog, in place of writing in their notebooks. I only have 6 computers in my classroom. They could use this time to create their own blog post or respond to a classmate. This really helped them buy into writing during reading. Not only have they increased their writing about reading time, but their reader's notebooks never leave their side while they are reading, both at school and at home. They use their notebooks so much more now, especially for quick jots. This helps them to be prepared to for their blog day, knowing that their classmates will be reading their posts. The students have loved the idea of blogging their thoughts so much that they are doing it beyond the confines of reader's workshop. They blog about their reading at home and during free times at school.
There are many blogging platforms available for free use. I found Kidblog works the best for classroom
teachers for these main reasons:
· Simple set up
· Simple security settings
· Enough options for multi-media blogging without being overwhelming
· No need for individual email accounts for students
· Completely free