I am thinking Kidblog.com is working. Currently, I do not have high expectations as far as writing skills are concerned. I did not have the students write rough drafts. I wanted them to write and post quickly. Their peers did comment on the need for remediation in some areas, but this is not the forum I am using to evaluate writing skills. (It will be later.) For now, I am using it as one way to discuss literature, and the comments have been good. They do have room for improvement, but without any modeling, the kids have done a good job.
Of course, I do have some students who are extremely anxious about sharing their thoughts with others. In talking with the parents I have learned this is not shyness. It is anxiety. For now, I have allowed theses two kids to write their responses on notebook paper. I hope to have them give me an alias. As long as I know it, I can give them credit for commenting on other’s blogs.
As all of our computers are tied up with testing for the next two weeks, I will have the students complete one blog on their own. By the end of the nine weeks, they will pick one response to revise and I will use a rubric I developed to evaluate their writing skills.
I have a good feeling about this.