Tag Archives: Literacy

Starting Your Year with Student Blogging



If you haven’t considered blogging with your students, now’s the time!

I’ve taught fifth grade for the past 14 years, I have never found a more powerful approach to teaching writing than blogging. It creates an authentic audience, and kids actually want to write. I have an easy step by step guide to starting off on a good foot.



Click the title below for a more detailed explanation with resources.

Overview of Lessons to Begin Blogging

1. Make paper blogs to teach blogging. Here’s the lesson plan:
Paper Blogs: McTeach lesson

2.  7 Random Facts About Me To teach what information can be on a public space, and what can not.

3. Establish Blogging Guidelines.

4. Quality Comments

5. Start with small assignments

6. International Dot Day: How will you make a difference in the world?

7. Include parents

8. Connect with a couple of classrooms

9.Let them explore with color and style to personalize their blog site

10.Don’t grade! At least not at first.

11.Blog at least weekly                                                                                                         

12.Be Patient

Here’s a great article about the State of Blogging:

The State of Educational Blogging 2013

There are more resources linked here.

Text Complexity 101


Text Complexity…that phrase has been tossed about a lot since the launch of the Common Core State Standards conversation, but aside from that, it really is just good teaching practice to monitor and increase text complexity. So, for those of you that have been busy trying to keep up on the zillion other things in education, here’s a very brief introductory overview with some links for further information.

What it is NOT:

Text complexity is not necessarily more or longer. It really isn’t about higher reading level per se, more homework, or even more reading.

What it IS:

Increasing text complexity is a way to provide rigor in thinking and understanding by including texts with complex vocabulary, sentence structure and text organization. This can be done at every reading level and with any length text.

In light of the Common Core State Standards, the document identifies three inter-related aspects of text complexity: qualitative analysis, quantitative analysis, and matching readers with texts and tasks. The authors define each of these as follows:

Qualitative evaluation of the text: Levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands.

This can best be measured by an actual attentive human being.

Quantitative evaluation of the text: Readability measures and other scores of text complexity.

This is usually measured by computer software. This takes into account text complexity features such as: sentence length, word length, and text cohesion.

  Matching reader to the text and task: Reader variables (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and task variables (such as purpose and the complexity generated by the task assigned and the questions posed).

Again, this is a human job.

As you can see, monitoring text complexity is no simple task. A trained teacher  can effectively provide students with increasing levels of text complexity in a variety of formats. The key is training and practice. I see teachers all over the country working with Professional Learning Networks to increase their understanding and skill. Here are a couple really solid places to go for information. Find a group you resonate with and follow along through RSS feed, twitter, or facebook. There is no end to the professional generosity in our field.

Engaging Educators

Burkins and Yaris 

Darren Burris