Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rewards of Classroom Blogging

This was originally published on SmartBlogs.  I'm hoping that  parents and teachers 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 26 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: 

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.

Happy blogging! 

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What do you like about blogging?


  1. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    Thank you for creating this blog post to which I can refer teachers as a resource. As I spoke of you at #PlaydateLA there were many teachers wanting to connect with you. It is so difficult to make individual time for interested teachers starting a blog, so this post a great entry point.

    I hope you have a great start to the school year!

    Be well,
    Ms. Jennifer Peyrot

  2. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    It looks like you are ready to begin teaching another class and getting everyone excited about blogging. Each class brings a unique dynamic to the blogging community, and it is especially great to see how much the class improves in their writing as the school year progresses.

    I wish you and your students and great school year. I look forward to reading the posts about your class projects.


  3. Mrs Yollis
    The best thing about blogging is being to collaborate with students and classroom from around the world.
    Mr Webb and Room Five, Melville Intermediate, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand.

  4. Mrs. Yollis,

    I am thankful that I found this post. I recently began my graduate work in Educational Technology and was told about your blog in my first class. Throughout the past few weeks, I have been inspired by your blogs but am still hesitant (and a little scared!) to begin a blog with my third grade class. I am hoping to spend more time in the summer exploring your Educational Blogging wiki. It is so apparent while looking at your students' comments how much blogging helps them develop literacy skills.

    Thank you,
    Miss Byron

  5. Mrs. Yollis,
    Thank you for the great resources for both parents and educators on your website. I am looking forward to beginning blogging in my classroom and have been looking for useful resources. I am very impressed with your students engagement and desire to work on the blog both in the classroom and outside of school. I look forward to our "digital footprint" discussion and the connections that will be made with other classrooms.
    Thank you,
    Cara Little
    Raleigh, NC

    1. @ Cara Little,

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my resources! I think we all learn from each other which is one of the best things about the Internet!

      Best of luck!

      ~Mrs. Y♥llis


* * *
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