Blogging is an easy way to begin preparing elementary students for the new literacies of the Internet. (2009, Zawilinski)
In a recent article titled HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking in the Reading Teacher, Lisa Zawilinski identifies four common types of blogs currently found in elementary classrooms: classroom news blogs, mirror blogs, showcase blogs and literature response blogs.
The internet is this generation's defining technology for literacy (Coiro & Dobler, 2007; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004; Leu et. al., 2007). It is home to a continuously emerging set of new technologies for literacy such as search engines, e-mail, blogs, wikis, instant messenger, social networking tools, and many others yet to emerge. Each requires new skills and strategies. Schools need to prepare students for these new literacies by integrating them into the curriculum, and blogs are an easy way to begin. (Zawilinski, 2009)
I recently started a literature response blog with one of my reading groups called We Blog Books. We use the blog to focus our discussions on the Higher Order Thinking strategies we've learned this year: monitoring for meaning, using 'fix-up strategies', visualizing, determining importance and questioning.
Students log on daily to respond to a prompt or discussion question and read what their classmates have written. Engagement is high and, like an anchor chart, the blog makes our thinking visible so that we can refer to it throughout our book discussions.
As a result of this experience, I've discovered that to be successful, teaching students how to write blog comments requires the same modeling and guided practice that other reading responses require. I've also learned that effective blog prompts need specific criteria to scaffold student responses. Finally, I've learned that giving students permission to share their own thinking, questions and observations is a powerful motivator and an effective way to 'gradually release responsibility' for thinking to students.