The Blog About Blogging

B(The Central Pen, 2014) 

Source: There are many websites on the Internet where you can create a classroom blog, such as Weebly, Blogger and others listed later in the article. 

The Mighty Blog

One of the worst things that an author can do is assume that the intended audience knows what something is – that is, that they have the background knowledge to follow what you as an author are writing. It seems that most people have some understanding of what a blog is, or at the very least, they have heard the word blog and hopefully connect the word to the Internet.

This is a blog entry about blogs, or more specifically, about blogging. It seems reasonable that before I take you, the reader, down the path of learning about blogs and their applicable uses in education, that a definition of what a blog is should be made. If I was in the classroom, I would create this definition through the ideas and words of my students – a powerful teaching technique. Since I am looking at a computer screen and have no idea who you, the reader, are, I am now left with creating this definition for you.

So what is a blog? First of all, a blog is located on the Internet. A blog may or may not have a unique web address. Many times blogs can be located on websites. For instance, news websites sometimes have blogs written by specific authors, but the website itself is not focused solely on blogging. Alternatively, a website may be focused solely on blogging. Some of these websites may include many different bloggers, or the website may have only one blogger.

Okay, so I know where blogs are and the different places blogs can be…but you still haven’t answered the question of what is a blog? A blog is a short piece of writing that is generally authored by one person and can be either fiction or nonfiction. Wow, that’s awfully broad. What goes into blogs are as diverse as the people who write them. People use blogs to write informational text, opinions on various topics, and they can even be mini-diaries. A blog can literally contain anything that the blogger wants to put in it.

Blogs in the Classroom

     The ways that blogs can be used in the classroom vary almost as greatly as blogs themselves. I have included a variety of ways that blogs can be utilized in the classroom setting. Depending on grade level, content area, access to technology and student background knowledge with computers, the suggestions may need to be altered. You, as an educator, know your class the best.


As an educator, blogs can be a great way to introduce students to a variety of writing styles and genres. If you can find a great blog as an educator, you can introduce your students to the blog and give them time to explore the blog themselves. If you find a blog/blogging website that is full of good information, you can guide your students to the website and have them use the blog as a resources. Make sure your students learn to cite their sources though – just because the information is not coming from a book does not mean you shouldn’t cite it!

As an educator, you could find two or more blogs that are written on the same topic (informational or opinionated) and ask students to compare and contrast the varying opinions and facts.


Blogs are great for writing. First, students can use blogs to find information and then write about that information. Students can read a blog and write their reaction to that blog. Students could even construct a response to the blog post and write it, and if possible, send those responses to the author of the blog.

Of course, blogs are a form of writing. If you have the technology and the proper permissions, you can create a class website that includes student blogs. This can be a powerful tool, especially if the student blogs do make it onto the website. I know from experience that when I see my own writing on a website, it gives me a lot of confidence and pride. Imagine that – giving students confidence and pride in their writing!

I do not have the technology available at my school to have my students create blogs online. If you do not have the technology to put student writing on blogs, then perhaps you could use the same idea to create student “blog books” that make their way into the classroom library. I have the technology, but I do not have the permission. If you do not have permission to post student work, it may not be the end. Work with your principal and parents on various ways the blogs can be posted. Some parents may be okay if the work is password protected (perhaps a good idea to begin with). Another idea is to have each student create pen names so that their real names never make it to the Internet. Combine that with password protection, and you should be able to convince most (if not all) parents to allow their child’s work to be published online.

Blogs for Educators

There are many blogs designed for educators. These blogs, often written by educators, help to give teaching ideas, classroom management ideas, and share information about various topics in education, among many other topics. Here is a list of various educational blogs

As a blogger myself, I am working on a new website designed to help catch the interest of students, and help aide educators in their quest to teach literacy. The website is called The Fairy Tale Blogs, and is written from the perspective of various characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes and other folktale. Currently, there are four “bloggers” on the website – B.B. Wolf, Prince Charming, Peter Pan and Cinderella. After each blog there are suggestions for educators on how they may use that specific blog entry in their classroom. The blog is still in development, and will not be fully ready to share/advertise to the public until the end of the Summer when there will hopefully be enough entries for the website to be functional. Consider this a sneak-peak:

Some Standards

Blogs can be used to learn about any content area, and virtually any topic. That said, they can be used to teach/learn many different literacy standards. Some of these standards are listed below:

  • Retelling
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Opinionated Writing
  • Informational Writing
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Narrative Writing
  • Determining Themes/Main Ideas
  • Perspective/Point-of-view
  • Print Concepts
  • Shared Research

Classroom Blogs

Where do I get my own classroom blog? There are a number of websites that you can use to create classroom blogs. First, check with your principal/IT department to see if there is already a blog system set up for your school. If not, then there are still options. I have listed a few free blogging websites below. Depending on your preferences, you may opt to use the pay options that some of these websites offer, as not all of their features are available in the free versions. For example, on, you have to pay more for password protected pages.


Educational Impacts


Upside: Students get to develop their writing skills through blogging. The power of the blog is that the students get to see their writing in digital print on the computer – and others can see it too! Their work is published, and that can help to inspire and motivate students to write. If the students choose pen names, that can make the experience even more  fun. If blogging is right for your classroom, there are a number of free blogging sites available. 

Downside: Depending on school policy and parent consent, creating student blogs may require you to jump through hurdles. Further, while there are many free blogging sites out there, they often charge for features that classroom teachers may want, such as password protected pages. 


You can use blogs for almost any writing standard, such as writing opinion and perspective/point-of-view pieces, informational texts and narratives. 


Since student work is saved to the blog, you can assess their writing from there. This cuts down on paper, and adds the benefit of being able to grade the work anywhere. One item to consider is how well students are trained in typing. Students may make mistakes they would not normally make when producing hand-written work. 


Blogs can be used in many different ways in the world of education. They can be used in the classroom for reading purposes, for writing purposes, for learning information in literally all content areas, they can be utilized to learn more about the craft of educating. So, what are you waiting for? Blog on!



Starting a Blog | The Central Pen. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2014, from

Kindling The Inner Reader

scr2555-proj697-a-kindle-logo-rgb-lg(Amazon, 2014)


 Kindling The Inner Reader

Children love technology, which comes in handy since we are in the midst of the greatest technological revolution in the history of mankind. One of the central questions that teachers have is: how do I get my students excited about reading – or how do I get my students to want to read? The selection and availability of a wide-range of book genres on a variety of reading levels is important, and having an enthusiastic approach to reading as a teacher is important too. When you have done all of that – what next? In this day of age embracing technology can perhaps make students excited about reading.

Within the last seven or eight years the ebook industry has taken off like wildfire. Many different companies have taken the lead in the creation of ebook readers and earning the copyrights to sell ebooks in their virtual stores. The Big Three in the world of ebooks are Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks. All of these platforms are very similar, and they can each easily be used in the classroom. In fact, the majority of this article can apply to all three – but Amazon Kindle is the platform that has the most flexibility, and therefore is the topic of this article.

What is an eBook & eReader? 

What is an ebook exactly, and for that matter, what is an ereader? An ebook is a book that has been digitized so that you can read it in digital form. This is where the ereader comes into play. An ereader, such as a Kindle, has the ability to display the ebooks to readers. In fact, an ebook can often store hundreds, if not thousands, of books. Of course, the amount of memory an ebook has will have an impact on the number of ebooks that can be stored on it.

The Perks of Kindle

The perks of reading books on a Kindle are many, not the least of which includes the excitement of reading a book on a fun digital device. One of the struggles that readers face on all levels, but especially in the early years, is reading and not knowing what a word means. Kindles have a feature built in that allows you to select any word and it will give you that words definition. This is a great plus, but you will also want to ensure that readers are developing the skills needed to learn new words. Another neat feature of the Kindle is that it always remembers where you left off reading, so no need to forget where you left off. The Kindle also allows you the ability to place as many bookmarks as you would like, highlight text, and create in-book notes. Some books include “book extras,” which have details about characters, or in some books, a glossary of terms (especially if specific terms are created by the author). Other features include changing the font size (great for students who struggle to see), page background (white, sepia and even a black background with white text), and the brightness of the screen. Another great feature is that, depending on the device, you can have your Kindle read to you. Click here to see a video of how to do this on an iPad. 

Kindle Books

Not every book on Amazon is eligible for purchase on your Kindle, as there are copyright issues that prevent some books from purchase. In most cases, buying a book on Kindle is cheaper than buying the book brand new – plus, you get the satisfaction of being able to download the book instantly. The downside to buying books on Kindle is that you cannot resell the books later, and while the books are cheaper than brand new books they are not always cheaper than purchasing used books. On the plus side, you can download that book on up to six different devices – so it is like buying six books for the price of one. In addition, some libraries are beginning to have the capabilities of renting eBooks. This will allow you the ability to rent the book for free. Depending on your library, you can rent for generally two weeks, and may be limited on the number of devices you can download to. Still, this option may be good if you are reading a book to your class. The downside is that there is often a very long waiting list for books, and the selection may be much more limited than what you can find on Amazon.

The Many Ways to Use Kindle

There are many different devices that you can use with Kindle. Below we will explore some of the options, from cheapest to most expensive.



Google Chrome: Google Chrome, a web browser, has many apps that you can download. One of those apps is the Kindle Cloud Reader. This application allows you to read your Kindle books for FREE on your computer or laptop. Most classrooms these days are equipped with two to five student computers. If you have this application on each of them, then this suddenly becomes a very easy computer/technology based center. (image: Wikimedia, 2014)




Older Model Kindle: If you go to the Internet, especially a site like eBay, you can find many older model Kindle’s selling from ten dollars and up. Generally, you can get these models, depending on how new, for less than fifty dollars apiece. (image: Wikipedia, 2014)




New Kindle Models: Currently, Kindle has a number of traditional ereaders available. These range in price from $69 – $199. Click the link at the beginning to compare the models. (image: The Digital Reader, 2013)





Kindle Fire: The Kindle Fire is an eReader, but more than that, it is a tablet. The Kindle Fire is not quite the machine that the iPad is (in this writers opinion), but it is a major step up from the traditional eReading devices that readers had come to love. You can download many different apps from the Amazon app store, and some of them are educational too. The Kindle Fire starts at $139 for the entry level model, and goes up in price from there. Click the link a the beginning to compare the models. (image: The Digital Reader, 2011)




iPadAh, the tablet and device that educators are becoming more acquainted with as the months and years go by. The iPad has many wonderful educational applications. The Kindle App allows you to experience the Kindle on your iPad. There are many models available, starting at $299 for the iPad Mini. Chances are, though, your school has supplied the iPads for you. Nonetheless, click the link at the beginning to compare the different models. (image: Digital Trends, 2011)

Educational Applications

You may be thinking, how can I utilize the power of Kindle in my classroom? You can use a Kindle book any way you can use a traditional book. Still, below there is a list of different classroom applications. Depending on how many devices you have in your room, you may have to alter these ideas to fit your personal classroom.

  • Kindle can be used during centers. Depending on the number of devices you have, students can either read on their own, or they can read to one another. If the book is a longer one and you want to come back to it, you will want to have the students record their place with a bookmark. If you have many students, this could become overwhelming. In this case you can create a Kindle Form for your students and after they read they can record the book that they read and the page or location that they left off on. Depending on the book, you may have either page numbers of location numbers listed at the bottom of the page.
  • Reading groups are a great way to utilize your Kindle. It also helps to minimize any anxiety that goes along with reading groups, especially for students who are not on grade-level. Typically, these students are reading books with fewer pages, and every other student can see this. With the Kindle, there are no pages. The other students seeing the reading group have no idea how long or short the book being read is.
  • Teacher read aloud. The Kindle allows you the ability to read aloud just like a traditional book.

The Value of Kindle

The value of Kindle books can be immense. I know that I prefer to read for pleasure on a Kindle. That considered, I would not invest my own money in purchasing devices to read Kindle books on. These devices are expensive, and would be overly expensive to try to purchase multiple Kindle devices. With the rise of the iPad, and the increasing number of classroom computers, there is no need to invest your own money into a Kindle reading device for the classroom – although you may want to do so for yourself.

I would, however, put my own money into Kindle books for my classroom. These books are good forever, and are part of the classroom library in a sense. While Kindle books are no replacement for a fully-stocked traditional classroom library, they certainly enhance your classroom library. A word of warning. I would have a separate Amazon account for teaching than I would for my own personal Kindle library. I have an interest in books and book genres that are not appropriate for students, such as the Dexter book series. If you combine your personal collection and your classroom collection, all of these books will be available to download. In short – keep your accounts separate so that you do not have students reading materials that are not appropriate.

With Kindle books you can access your books anywhere you have the device. This means that if you want to look at a specific book for lesson planning purposes, you can do so from home if you have a device with you. Additionally, you can share these books with your own children without having to bring the books out of your classroom.

Educational Impacts


Upside: Kindle allows you to share books with students in a digital way – something that could help bring some students to the world of reading. The Kindle also helps students to learn what words mean, as it has a built-in dictionary. Further, when you buy books on your Kindle, you can use them on up to six devices. These devices can range from the original Kindle, the Kindle Fire, a computer with Google Chrome or even iPads. 

Downside: The start-up cost of using Kindle is significant, especially if you want to have multiple devices. That said, with the iPad becoming so popular in education, you may be able to get around the start-up cost. Kindle books can also only be used on a device that supports Kindle – so when you buy the book, it cannot go into your physical classroom library. Finally, not every book is available through Kindle – although the library is growing. 


All reading standards can be used with the Kindle, such as RL.3.1 – Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. You can also use the Kindle to teach about various topics in all content areas. 


There is no built-in assessment tool in the Kindle, though you can use what students learn from their Kindle reading to create assessments. 


The Kindle and other similar products are part of the future of education. If you are at the beginning or in the middle of your career, you should begin to invest in Kindle books. If you are toward the end of your career as an educator and do not have the technology in your classroom/school to utilize Kindle books properly, you may want to wait on Kindle. 


Amazon Kindle – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from

Amazon Media Room: Images – Logos. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from

Jobs unveils iPad 2: thinner than iPhone 4, comes in white | Digital Trends. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from

Kindle Fire Update Breaks Root – The Digital Reader. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from

Report: New Kindle Paperwhite to Gain 300ppi Screen Next Spring – The Digital Reader. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from

Retrieved February 21, 2014, from

Links not identified in article (in chronological order)

  • For iPad:
  • For Kindle Cloud Reader:
  • Older Kindle Readers:
  • New Kindle Models:
  • New Kindle Fire Models:
  • New iPad Models: