Q & A with Jon Schwartz of Kids Like Blogs

Katherine Vander Ark:

Jon Schwartz is an elementary school teacher and runs the site Kids Like Blogs! He believes that blogs motivate students to write, read, create art, and the use of technology. See the Q & A with Jon and be sure to see the work that his students are producing.

Q: There are many ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. What made you decide to have the children begin to blog?
A: There were several factors. One, I always had my students write a lot, whether I am teaching first or fifth grade. What happens is they end up with a huge amount of work, and I was never satisfied with how it just went in a folder at school, a binder, their desk, or got sent home. I wanted to be able to keep an efficient record of their work that could easily be referenced and shared with others. For example, they may not have written a lot in the previous year, and when their prior teachers want to see how much they have grown, with a blog, you send them a url, rather than sending over a bunch of papers (which they already have stacks of). By either having the students type on a blog, or have them write on paper and then scanning their handwritten work and art and posting it on the blog as a jpeg, you basically have an online gallery and portfolio. This can be shared with the principal who can then look it over quickly and give a quick high five to the kid as they pass in the halls.
One of the biggest advantages is that by creating an online portfolio, you are in effect creating virtual office hours. With class sizes in some cases doubling (I had a 4/5 combo class this year with 39 kids nearly equally split between 4th and 5th grade), you can imagine there is very little opportunity for one on one conferences, the time when you can give input to children on their work.