A few weeks ago I wrote that I was looking for a project for our third grade students – the only grade level I haven’t worked with so far this year. About two minutes after I posted that tiny little statement at the very end of a long post, the always amazing Susan Sedro was texting me with a great idea for a grade three class.

We were both looking for something on the simple side – something uncomplicated that could be enhanced and further developed if all parties were interested, but basically something that doesn’t involve too much effort, and would hardly be in danger of “overtaking” the class and turning everything into a technology lesson.

So we came up with this easy-to-manage idea: Blog Pals:

  • We will have one class blog for each third grade class – both blogs linked in the sidebar.
  • The class blog will be maintained by the teacher, using one username and one password (and one centralized e-mail address for moderation of comments), but each student will have a chance to author posts.
  • Each student will have their own category on the blog so that, by the end of the year, it will seem like they each have their “own” blog (when you click on their category name and see all of their posts on the page).
  • Each week at least one student from each class will write a post on the class blog. All of the students in the partner classes have the opportunity to comment on those posts during class time.
  • When needed, the teacher will write a post for the class to comment on.

Basically, our class blogs are going to be a little bit like centralized pen pals. We decided to keep them open to the public to take this opportunity to teach our students about online safety and appropriate online behavior.

Over time, if this project becomes something exciting that we want to expand, we know there’s room for:

  • embedding images, video, VoiceThreads, or podcasts
  • developing individual student blogs
  • creating a dedicated time for blogging every day in class
  • adding more third grade partners around the world (which has already started, with the addition of Anne Reardon’s class in Pennsylvania, USA)

After completing the @manyvoices project with Mrs. R’s fifth grade class this week in only two lessons, the idea of a simple project that exposes students to the idea of 21st century literacy, connects them to the wider world, gives them an authentic audience for their writing, and utilizes a new mode of communication, sounds just perfect to me! I’m looking forward to getting started this week!

Tags: elementary, 21stcentury, globalcollaborations, internationalschool, flatclassroom, collaborations, blogging, grade3, blogpals, @manyvoices,

10 thoughts on “Blog Pals: Adventures in Blogging With Third Grade

  1. This sound like a great idea! Keep us posted on how it is doing. Will anyone be able to make comments or will it only be open to the other class? Post the blog address so some of us can read it too.

  2. Pat,

    Anyone can read the blogs and comment! And please feel free to do so anytime :)

    The address is already linked on the word “BlogPals” in my post :)

  3. Dear Kim,

    The idea of Blog Pals sounds fantastic! I love the idea of starting off small. I too, am always looking for simple, yet meaningful projects. I think many teachers are turned off to the idea of incorporating technology into the classroom, because for so many, it’s a foreign language. The amount of time it takes to get a project up and running can turn many teachers away from the idea.

    In regards to your idea—using one username and password and having a centralized e-mail address is a great idea. I think this makes the project easier to handle and regulate. My biggest concern, as well as my school districts, is Internet safety. I’m not sure how I feel about keeping the class blogs open to the public. Have you ever had any problems?

    I’d be interested in learning more about this project. I would love to start this project in my classroom this fall. The idea of communicating with other students around the world in form of a classroom blog is very cool. I can almost guarantee you that the majority of my students don’t know what a blog is. It truly is a new mode of communication and an authentic way of writing. This definitely goes above and beyond our traditional form of pen-pal writing. Thanks for sharing this idea!

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Liz Strack

  4. @lstrak,

    We do a series of lessons on internet safety and appropriate online behavior at the beginning of each online project. You can find all the videos and discussion starters I used with this class here. Once we go through this process, we really don’t have any issues. My belief is that students need to be taught how to behave online before they start to develop unsafe habits as they get older. Elementary school seems to be the perfect time for this. Hope that helps!

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