e-pd Module: Creating A Reading Response Classroom Blog

Module Rationale:
This module is designed to show teachers how using a classroom blog for students gives them a way to express their opinions and reactions to texts, especially books read in class or as part of a book club. In light of the new Common Core and integration of ELA and technology, creating a blog for students to post comments to open-ended questions from the book as well as comments to each other's posts, lets students use technology as an engaging platform to demonstrate their critical thinking skills as well as their writing and grammar skills.  Reading to oneself is not highly motivating for many students, it is for a few, but sharing ideas through live and/or online discussions creates a community of learners and is more engaging than reading and responding in a journal or on a piece of paper. Engagement and motivation is key!

The module will showcase high school ELA and technology standards, and explore how creating a student blog can easily be adapted to middle school and elementary school for grade appropriate texts related to social, human and global issues.    

Module Prerequisites...Words of Caution before Proceeding...

Prior to beginning this module, you should explore the blog options in your district? First find out if the district is supported or contracts with certain blog hosting sites. For example, in Wake County, the district approves and (technically) supports Edublogs.  Next, find out if you need to take a pre-requisite module to apply for a blog in your district. In Wake County, you must complete the CyberSense Online Training before requesting a blog. Also, talk to your technology contact at your site because you will definitely need them to help you get all student users entered onto the blog. (If you teach in Wake County, all students have a wcpss.net email address [it's not highly publicized, nor do they know it] but this is the address that you will use to begin setting up your blog). If your students do not have a district email address, check to see if you need parent permission to create an email address for them if they don't already have one.

Edublogs hosts all WCPSS blogs

Here are some blog hosting sites to explore if you are not in Wake County:

Ok, with that out of the way, we can get onto the purpose of the blog...what you and the students do on the blog.  

Problem Statement:
You have been asked by your principal to implement the standards on the new Common Core for ELA (whatever grade you teach) and you are also expected to integrate technology into your ELA lessons, but the district is asking for some formative assessment data on open-ended questions stems because the district is conducting its own internal academic evaluation and want to quantify student responses according to the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy levels of  cognition.  This blog will serve as your formative data to provide to the district.  They will access your student's responses and code them.  This will guide the district direction for upcoming professional development in 21st century learning.

Module Objective: 
This module is designed to walk you (the participants) through the steps of starting a Reading Response blog as if you were walking through it with your students. The English Language Arts (ELA) standards addressed by a technology intregrated lesson or unit will vary slightly from grade to grade as will the grade level appropriate books at each level.  There are many ways to find a selection of grade-appropriate and interesting books, but for the purpose of the blog, you will want to select books that have significant social, human or global issues...things that students can really get into and discuss, share their opinions, agree and disagree, demonstrate their critical thinking skills, their writing skills and their netiquette skills. For this module I will highlight a few books (at each level) I feel are best for this purpose.  The format of how the book is read by students is a professional choice you can make (shared reading, guided reading, homework, book club live, book club online, etc.) it's what the students will do as a response to the reading where the technology integration comes in.  

There are five Common Core ELA Standards addressed in this module.  Although this module was originally designed for high school teachers, it is easily adaptable to middle school and elementary due to the spiral design of the Common Core ELA Standards.  View ELA Standards here:

So, now that you are familiar with the standards that the ELA Technology integration will accomplish, you will carry out the reading of the text in a manner that works in your classroom.  

When you are ready to introduce the blog that you have created to students, you will model and teach (in a series of mini-lessons)  how the following procedural and content: 
1. Log in (using thier pseudonym username and password)
2. Leave an Opinionated Comment to a Blog Post
3. Reply Respectfully to Others' Blog Posts
4. Use Text Based Quotes and Evidence to Justify Their Comments
5. Make Inferences and Connections Drawn from the Text

It might be helpful to develop a Critical Thinking rubric, either ahead of time or collaboratively with the students, so they know what is expected in their blog responses, similar to the one I developed below. Evaluation is a key component when identifying and communicating objectives to students, they need to know what specifically to improve in order to be more successful with the objectives, and even big picture, with their learning and their overall success.

If you're interesting in seeing a few other Reading Response blogs in action, check out some examples below:

Mr. Purdon's Class Blog

Mrs. Jones Student Blog

If you haven't read the books listed above, you can browse the internet. There are several resources online to give teachers ideas and resources with the books mentioned above, including chapter questions for discussion.  Here are some resources that you may or may not use as initial post questions on your blog.

The Glass Castle


Because of Winn-Dixie

Happy Reading! -Jen Jones



Tales by a 1st Grade Teacher said...

This sounds amazing! How would you see this working in first grade? Thanks!

Jennifer Gibson said...

We did reading response blogs last year instead of journals. It was AWESOME! I am looking forward to it again this year. It really strengthened our reading community.

I let my students blog about self-selected books usually, but sometimes they blogged about the class read-aloud or other texts. They had to support with evidence from the text and they had to use a thinking stem to show higher thinking. It was a challenge to many, but by the end of the year, most could do a pretty good job!

Thanks for sharing!

Lifelong Learning

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