Tuesday, February 5, 2013

From Reading Logs to Reading Blogs Using Kidblog.org

Do you know Robert Fulghum's poem, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"? If not, you really need to read it. If so, you may remember that "Share Everything" is at the top of the list of essential life skills according to Fulghum.

Well, I'm really glad my colleagues were paying attention back in the early days of their school careers. It's great to work in a school where teachers are willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Recently, a colleague sought me out to share her latest technology "treasure" with me. My friend Hayley and I share a love of children's literature and a passion for encouraging that same love in our students. We're also both big proponents of educational technology, so Hayley knew I'd be interested in Kidblog.org when she came across the site.

As soon as Hayley started telling me about this classroom blogging site and how she was going to use it to usher her students' reading logs into the digital age, I knew it was something I was going to want to try with my own students.

Kidblog.org is easy to set up and administer. I had all my students' user accounts set up in ten minutes, and it took less than an hour to familiarize myself with all of the options available on the site. Kidblog.org is my kind of site - simple and free.

Next, I chose a background theme I liked and posted my first blog entry. It is the prompt I want my students to respond to in their first blog entries this week. Here it is:

For your first Reading Blog, I want you to update your Reader’s Autobiography from the beginning of the year. In the first paragraph of your entry summarize what you said about yourself as a reader in September. In the second paragraph, explain how your attitude toward reading, or your reading habits, have changed this year.
Submit your entry when you think it is ready, and I will approve your entry for posting if it is error-free and contains enough detail. Otherwise, I will return your post with suggestions for the necessary changes you need to make, and then you will resubmit the post with the corrections.
I can not wait to see what my students have to say about how their reading attitudes and habits have changed since September. I have observed remarkable growth, and I am eager to see if they recognize it, too. Once we read my post on the SMARTBoard, the children were totally engrossed in reading their readers' autobiographies from September. It was so much fun hearing them share different portions  of their autobiographies with each other. Many of them couldn't wait to call me over and show me a part of their September entries. I heard a lot of "Hey, Mrs. Schwab, do you remember when I ...?" 
The beauty of the blogging platform, aside from the fact that I won't have to carry a bag full of notebooks home on the weekend, is that the students can read one another's entries and make comments. I see this as a valuable tool for strengthening our bond as a community of readers. My students really take our status as the Room 202 Family to heart. I'm confident they'll use their comments to encourage and support one another.
I am curious to see how this format will impact the book selections the kids make for independent reading. I envision students reading one another's reading responses and discovering books they are interested in reading. We already have book talks hanging up in the classroom, but this is a much more dynamic and interactive basis for making a book selection.
I also love the fact that the children's posts can not be published without approval. When my friend showed me how you can make editing and revision suggestions in another text color and send the post back to its author, I was very impressed. I'm looking forward to a significant improvement in the quality of the reading responses my students will publish versus the handwritten entries I have been receiving lately.
The kids didn't necessarily dwell on the value of making our reading community stronger, and they actually groaned when they learned I would be returning their posts for editing and revision before they could be published, but they did LOVE choosing an avatar for their user account and selecting a theme for their blog page. They had plenty of questions about being able to comment on one another's posts, and they can't wait to figure out how to imbed images and videos in their posts. The site is very kid-friendly.
I can't thank my friend enough for sharing Kidblog.org with me. It is the perfect antidote for the complacency and halfheartedness that was starting to crop up in some of my students' weekly reading responses. I am looking forward to reading their rejuvenated responses this week. I wish I could share their work with you, but the site is secure. 
(If your students have not written a reader's autobiography this year, and you'd like to have this valuable background information to help you structure your independent reading program, I have the guidelines I give my students for the assignment along with my own autobiography to use as a model. I'd be happy to email the document to anyone who is an email subscriber to my blog. Just let me know if you need it in a comment below.)


  1. How has kidblog been working for you so far? I'm quite intrigued by utilizing the kidblog to foster reading at home. Could you e-mail me your reader's autobiography assignment? I'd love to see if I could incorporate this into my classroom. My e-mail is desiree.parks@fortbendisd.com. Thank you!

    1. Desiree, You can log onto our Kidblog site at kidblog.org/Room202-5 to see what the kids have been posting. You can log in as guest with the password guest. I LOVE what the site is doing to build a sense of community among the readers in my class. I would highly recommend giving Kidblog a chance. It's easy to set up and the kids really like it. I am emailing you the reader's autobiography stuff now. I hope you'll become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. ~Stacy

  2. I love the idea of bringing the reading logs into the 21st century. Thank you so much for introducing me to kidblog.org. I can't wait to get it set up so my students can begin when school begins in August.

    BTW...I would love to have your guidelines for the reading autobiography and the model that you use to show them.

    These two things will definitely be instituted in my classroom this next school year.

    Mrs. B's Nook

  3. Can you please send me the autobiography background information? My email is cmckneig@ccs.k12.in.us

  4. I came across your blog from another blog (teaching in room 6) where you commented about your readingblog. I will be following your blog!

    I would love a copy of your reader's autobiography guidelines. My email is jodi.hindes@yahoo.com.

    Thanks so much! Jodi

  5. I am looking for ways to improve the reading log and this sounds great. May I have a copy of your Reader's Autobiography Guidelines please?
    Thank you, Geunita

  6. I am a new follower! Will you please email me your reader's autobiography guidelines? Thanks! gardner.becca at gmail dot com

  7. How do you send their pages back with editing in other colors? I am thinking (since we have to go to a computer lab to write anything) this would be a great place for my students to type in writing works 'in progress' for me to check and edit and them to revise before wee print them up. I have no other way to get all their work in one spot to check or print at this moment- this seems like a great help for a teacher like me- who has tech issues with the room. I am hoping this is the solution I have been hoping for!

    1. Juli, They submit their post for publication and it is pending in my control panel for approval. Instead of publishing their work, I chose a different color text and make editing/revision suggestions. I also highlight their errors and change them to a different color. Then, I don't approve the post for publication. I leave it pending for them to correct. I hope that makes sense.