Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rewards of Teaching Young Students to Blog

This was originally published on SmartBlogs.  I'm hoping that  parents will read this article and have a good understanding about the benefits of blogging as we begin a new school year on Wednesday. 

I have been an elementary-school teacher for more than 25 years and I am always on the lookout for meaningful ways to engage and motivate my young students. I started Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog in 2008 with the idea of sharing class activities with parents. Over time, the blog has grown to be the centerpiece of our third-grade classroom. It has become a true global learning community that offers myriad rewards for students, parents and teachers.

Develop quality literacy skills  

When I first started blogging, I thought the posts would be the primary focus of the blog. I quickly realized that the comment section was where the blog came to life. As a class, we set high standards and expectations for writing, agreed to always have an adult proofread before publishing, and created a video to help teach commenting skills.

My students are highly motivated by their authentic global audience and take great pride in producing top-notch writing for their readers. It has been a pleasure to watch my third-graders develop into writers who are eager to compose quality comments on one of our five classroom laptops.

What has been even more exciting for me is the student participation from home. Although I rarely require a comment, students frequently choose to comment on either our class blog or our class photo-of-the-day project during their free time. Clearly, my students enjoy contributing to our online learning community.

Include parents in the learning

Parental involvement has strengthened and expanded the learning opportunities for my class. Twice a year, I run what I call Family Blogging Month. It is a great way to formally invite parents to join in the classroom learning via the blog. The family comments are always valued, and during FBM, I highlight several family exchanges on the blog in the hopes of encouraging more parents and family members to comment. Here are two posts that feature rewarding family contributions: More Quality Comments: Family Blogging Month! and Family Blogging: When I Was Young…
Many parents work but would love to volunteer in some way. Last year, I asked parents to become “virtual volunteers” for our blogs. A virtual volunteer is a person who supports the blog by commenting back to students. This type of interaction helps strengthen the home-school connection and makes the comment sections more engaging.

Integrate curriculum in creative ways

With classroom time at a premium, I look for meaningful ways to integrate curriculum; the blog has been the perfect venue. When my class read “The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry for language arts, the students followed up their reading by researching a rain forest animal that was mentioned in the story. Each student composed a comment for the blog from the point of view of that animal. It was a wonderful mix of reading, researching, science and creative writing! During our biography unit, I had each student select a famous person to study. Students submitted a creative comment pretending they were that person. George Washington got a comment from Queen Elizabeth I, Mozart and Tchaikovsky were chatting; the blog comments truly brought these historic people to life! See more examples of integrated curriculum.

Build a digital footprint

I believe it is important to teach young children how to be contributing members of an online community. Building a positive digital footprint and practicing Internet safety are not simply one-week units of study, but are regularly taught and practiced via the class blog.

Connect with other learners

Of all the riches that blogging has brought to my class, the relationships we’ve built with other classrooms around the world have been the most rewarding. The collaborative projects we have joined not only support the educational standards required at my grade level but have also given my students a real understanding of other topics such as geography, time zones, cultures and friendships. I recently presented four global projects at ISTE with my blogging colleague, Kathleen Morris from Australia. Although we have collaborated for many years, we met for the first time when we shared Flattening Classroom Walls with Blogging and Global Collaboration in San Diego.

Blogging offers many rewards!

What excites you about blogging?


  1. Mrs Yollis
    This is such a great post and such a wonderful introduction to adults, teachers and students about blogging. For me and my students, living on the bottom of the world as we do, its a chance to feel connected to a global community. Blogging allows us to interact with students and classrooms all over the world and be part of others learning.
    Mr Webb and Room Five, Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

    1. @ Mr. Webb, (New Zealand)

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      I wholeheartedly agree! We love connecting and learning with our blogging buddies. We're no longer limited by the four walls of our classroom, but have opportunities to learn in a global setting. Amazing!

      We are looking forward to learning with you this year. School starts for students on Wednesday!

      Happy blogging!

      Mrs. Y♥llis

  2. Dear Mrs Yollis,
    Awesome post.

    I just love blogging and having a class blog. My Grade 4PR have a blog but we don't put lots of posts up because my class use another system which is Ultranet. Ultranet is only for Victoria schools.

    Ultranet is collaborative space for any year level.

    You asked what excites you about blogging. For me what excites me about blogging is I love reading comments from other fellow bloggers when they write on my blog. Also I love the special friendships that are made all over the globe. Which you are one of them as well as Mrs Hembree, Mrs Lynch and with some of your former students. :)

    Keep blogging Mrs Yollis.

    From your pal,


  3. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I hope that you had a wonderful summer! I am excited to start school and at the same time a little nervous to start fifth grade which is my final year in elementary school. I can see that you are already preparing to start a new school year as you always do.

    I love getting new blogging buddies from all around the world and getting to know them better. One of my best blogging buddy is Bianca. She always responds to my comments that I write on her blog and very quickly. I also like her catchy posts.

    I look forward to meeting some of your new 3rd grade bloggers. See you in a few days!


  4. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I really like your post Your comment video is so cool. I like to blog because I want to learn how to type and I like when people comment to me. I hope I get my blog when I'm in third grade. My mom found a typing game for me so, I could learn how to type. Which grade were you when you learned how to type?


  5. Dear Mrs Yollis,

    Wonderful post and you have hit on all the wonderful elements on what makes blogging so wonderful as well as been safe.

    Blogging is such a journey that you can take on when ever you choose to. Travel to different parts of the world and making truly wonderful connections. Then learning and becoming part of the blogging community.

    But the one thing that really excites me is the friendships that are formed all because of blogging.

    I, can honesty say that the friendships that BB and I have formed mean a great deal to us both and something that I hope we both can do together for many years to come. Also I really enjoy the aspect of BB and I sharing,reading and connecting on other blogs. For the world don't seem so far away. We truly do have heaps of fun.

    From a very happy mum blogger.


* * *
Getting feedback is important to our writers. Let us know what you liked or what you learned.

Steps to Comment:

1. Write your comment in the box below. Be sure that you have proofread it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Students should have a parent check it!

2. Choose an identity. (If you have a gmail account, use it. If not, choose name/url. You can leave the url blank if you do not have a blog.)

3. Click "Publish your Comment". You may preview your comment before publishing if you'd like.

Important: All comments MUST be approved by me.
:-) Mrs. Yollis