Each year, I usually do some type of current event assignment with my students. This year, to promote science literacy and 21st century skills, I thought I would try having the kids blog for their current events. I created a free edublog account and came up with a format that I thought would be appropriate for 5th graders, most of which are 10 years old.
Two of the concerns I had last year with kids finding their own articles were:
- choosing appropriate news articles from reliable sources
- articles that were at their reading level
For the blog, I came up with a format where I would post articles from various reliable sources that cover a wide variety of topics. The students could then pick any article that they were interested in and write a summary and reflection. I posted some questions to give them an idea of what they would be learning about when they read the article. The second thing that I liked about this format was that the kids could then read comments from other students who read the same article they did.
Once the students are comfortable with using the blog and reading news from reliable sources, I will ask them to send me articles that they are interested in and I can post those articles on the blog. To help students find good news articles, I set up a pageflakes page which posts RSS feeds from all the science news sites I have bookmarked. It acts like a funnel, funneling all the information into one page instead of going to all the different news websites. Its very easy to see all the current headlines and click on something that you are interested in reading about.
When the students are writing their summary and reflection, I have them type it into Word, proofread, spellcheck, and edit first. I also tell them to save a copy on their computer. The problem with typing directly into the comment box is that they can not spell check or edit their work as easily. And if the webpage or internet connection snarls up, they lose everything that they worked on. When they are ready to post, they copy and paste those two paragraphs into the comment box under the correct article.
For their summary, I ask that they have at least 2 sentences that answers the questions: who, what , where, when, and why. Their reflection is more about what they learned, their opinions, thoughts, etc… And that should be at least 3-4 sentences.
When a students submits a comment, it gets held for moderation. In the blogging dashboard, a little orange square pops up next to the comments tab and tells me how many comments I have waiting to be moderated. I click on it and can see the new posts. I approve the posts and they are instantly published on the website. I can edit the comments, but I choose not to. The only thing I will edit is if the kids accidently post their last name, otherwise I leave it as is. The main reason I moderate the comments is so that only my students are the ones posting to the blog, not anyone else since it is open to the public.
I came up with a simple rubric to grade the postings. They complete one current event assignment every 6 day cycle.
Do you use blogging in your science class? If so, would love to hear about or see your class blog.