Kids are constantly consuming digital content. They are reading blogs, watching Youtube videos, and helping social media content go viral. But what if they were the ones creating this content? Teachers can encourage their students to be the ones creating valuable content.
Classroom blogs are a great and versatile way to get your kids creating content. You can have students post their writing (stories, paragraphs, poetry, etc.), pictures of class projects, or even audio projects (read aloud practice, speech class ventures, etc.). As a bonus, they are also a great way to showcase student work to parents and keep them in the loop. Many blogging platforms are designed to be very easy to use, like Blogger and Live Journal. Edublogs was even made just for classroom and school library blogs.
Instructables is an online community of people writing how-tos that your students can contribute to. Walk your students through signing up and creating accounts, including making sure to verify their emails so they can both make instructables and comment on others. The website provides a video tutorial if you’d like some guidance in helping your students create their first how-to. Not only is this a great way to have your students create content, it’s also a great opportunity to teach procedural writing with a little extra buy-in. Since their writing will be published publicly to the web, you can speak to your students about how this is a situation in which they want to do their very best.
There are also several creative platforms out there for contributing to online communities that create storybooks and illustrations, such as My Storybook and Storyboard That. Storybird is a subscription service, but it can really get inspiration flowing and it is unique in that it lets students put words to already created (wordless) picture books from various professional illustrators.
When guiding your students towards being content creators, it is imperative to also teach them internet safety. First, when signing up for things, impress upon your students that they are not to share personal identifying information on the internet. Another major point you’ll want to go over is how to behave respectfully and responsibly in online communities. Go over the word respectful and what treating other people with respect looks like online. As a general rule of thumb, I like to have students wait until after they have contributed some of their own work before allowing them to comment. I find this helps to impress upon your students the hard work that someone put into each project they look at, to encourage them to treat others’ work with respect. Talk about what appropriate actions your child can take if they see they don’t have something good to say about, such as simply moving on to find work that they do like. If you are specifically asking your students to provide constructive feedback to one another, practice this skill several times in person before having them try it online.
Getting your students to be content creators can help your students be responsible online citizens, as well encourage them to develop pride in their work.
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