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I am so excited to introduce That Thing You Do! This new weekly segment will share tips from teachers who make the learning memorable for their students. Huge shout-out to Katherine Sokolowski who teaches 7th grade in central Illinois for guest blogging on the very first ever That Thing You Do segment. Katherine blogs at Read, Write, Reflect and you can follow her on Twitter @katsok

blog-chart-sokolowski

I’ve recently begun blogging with my seventh graders on Kidblog. My 75+ students come to blogging from many different directions. I have taught about 2/3 of my students before as fifth graders. They are familiar with blogging. The other 1/3 of my students have never written a blog post and were unsure what to do with this new genre.

Before letting them loose to write, we read a lot of blog posts. I shared websites like Nerdy Book Club, my own blog, and a handful of student blogs I found online. Students read the examples and then we created an anchor chart of common traits shared among the posts we read.

Once we had a good understanding of what makes a blog post, I let them dive in. I firmly believe you learn the most by trying it out. While they worked hard on their first posts, when they look back in a few weeks they will be amazed at their growth in a short time.

Because I have a variety of ability levels, we quickly created the anchor chart in the photo to hang up in the room and remind the students of the steps in creating a blog post. This allows some students to work through independently while I work in small groups with others.

Finally, as for publishing options, this year our blogs are not public to start the year. I am working with a colleague and she’s never blogged with her class before. The “public” option can be intimidating, so we removed it for now. That being said, I still wanted my students to have a chance to share their writing with the world. My solution was to create a blog page on our class website. If any student would like their post to be “public”, they sign up on a paper in the classroom and I copy and paste their post to our class blog. So far it is working great.

–Katherine Sokolowski

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