I have had students using their blogs for sharing their reading, giving book reviews, and having group "discussions" online.
Here are some different things I have tried:
1. Have students keep a blog, posing as a famous individual in American history. As students researched a person, they posted topics or events in their lives. Other people shared comments and asked questions, to which they had to reply, thus requiring more research. The kids added photos, movies, and sound clips.
2. When I was absent, I posted an assignment for the day on my blog. Students had to post a comment to me when they completed the task, or shared information that I requested. Being able to monitor this from anywhere allowed me to quickly see who followed directions and who didn't. Prizes the next day for those who completed the task!
3. On my blog, I posted the link to a Content Partner calendar (i.e. ReadWriteThink Calendar Activities, ScienceNetLinks Calendar, EDSITEment! Calendar). I asked students to find the date they were born (didn't matter the year), indentify an event that took place on that date, and provide the link to the information. They were very excited about finding out the whats, whys, and whos about their birthday!
4. This weekend I am traveling to Austin and will not be in school on Friday. I am going to create a post that will tell where I am, but I'm looking for some fun stuff to do while I'm in Austin, Texas. Students will use search skills and find interesting things for me to see or do. They'll have to tell me what it is, a link for information, and tell me about how far it is from where I am (University of Texas campus.)
I know these aren't the traditional examples that we think of as blogs, but Kidblog.org is such an easy tool, that all of us are having a great time playing and learning with it!
I love your examples, Colleen. I used to do something similar to #1 with older students responding as if they were an individual in American history to younger students who were reading about these famous Americans. You are right, it all requires a lot of research to offer authentic responses. We used email but the blog is a great resource for today's students.
I do like that you are able to stay in touch with your students through blogging even on the road. I'm sure they take great pride in writing to you too.
I just stumbled on kidblog.org and have already created a class with a couple of students names (before I even read your blog). It seems easy and very kid-friendly. I love your ideas! One of the 4th grade teachers wanted to use blogging with her students during the summer so that they can report their summer reading instead of sending postcards back and forth. This will work perfectly for her! I feel better knowing that you like kidblog.org as well!