When I want to know the latest books to refresh a classroom library, I turn to Mr. Schu Reads or the Nerdy Book Club. I can count on these blogs having the exact information I need. When I am looking for an example of a student amplifying their voice to send a positive message, I turn to Kid President or The Liv Bits. When students tell me they want to learn more about science, history, geography, or animals I send them to National Geographic Kids. National Geographic Kids presents information using text and eye-catching photographs. The text allows students to read skillfully and understand the information. The blogs I rely on and visit frequently have a brand. I am loyal to branded blogs because I can count on their content, presentation, and message.
As an instructional technology coach, I have the privilege of working alongside teachers as they bring their students into the world of blogging. Many of the teachers I work with are new to blogging. They rely on me to steer them towards an experience that will engage students, lift students’ writing, and fit within the already packed school day.
For this reason, I encourage teachers to create branded blogs with their students. Branded blogs are dedicated to one topic. Each post reflects the nature of the blog and gives the reader in-depth understanding of the topic. Readers rely on branded blogs to provide information on their brand.
Branded blogs allow students to write about their passion. When students are writing about a topic they know a lot about, students are eager to write. When students are writing eagerly, they are developing stamina, skills, and falling in love with writing.
The classroom teacher and I begin by helping students identify their interests. Then, we ask students to think deeply about their passions and generate a few ideas for posts. Next, we confer with writers and guide them in choosing one passion, or brand for their blog.
- Find your mentor blogger.
- Visit branded blogs.
- Discuss and chart how often they blog.
- Notice how they start and end their blog posts.
- Read the comments.
- Note the length of the blog posts.
- What media do they include in their posts?
- Do they include hyperlinks? When?
Help Students Find Their Brand
- Discuss and chart student interests/passions.
- Discuss possible topics for posts under the passions.
- Encourage students to discuss their passions with friends.
Why Brand Your Blog?
- Students fall in love with writing as they write about their passion.
- Students find others who have like interests.
- Students want to write more.
- Student shares their passion with an authentic audience.
- Teachers learn more about students and their interest.
- Teachers can assess what skills a student has internalized.
Teach Into Blogging
- Note common needs of all students across blogs for whole group lessons.
- Note smaller needs for individual conferences or small group work.
- Allow time for branded blogging in the workshop.
Last week we started branded blogs with first graders who are entirely new to blogging. I hope that branded blogging will be all they ever know. Do you know any student–authored branded blogs? Share them here to help others find their mentor blog.