Pick a topic, any topic and I bet you can find a blog about it. Blogs have become the way people share their personal, political, and professional thoughts with the world. This is what makes them so popular to read and write. Writers like the idea that their work could start a larger conversation while readers can find individuals with expertise or similar feelings on a topic.
Students are no different. They want to be heard. They want to know their opinions matter. They want to share their lives with the world. So why not allow them to do it as a writing medium in their class? I have seen some successful class blogs where teachers have created an environment where students share their ideas in a safe online environment. In my own classroom, I had an 8th grade class of students blogging every week. It was a positive experience overall. Students who didn't normally turn in work wrote on their blogs, advanced students were able to focus on topics that were outside the realm of their normal school day, and all the students were able to write in a safe environment.
I chose to have them use a site called Kidblog. I chose this site because I was able to choose if and when blogs were released to be seen by others and who had the ability to read student work. These settings helped me prevent a couple of inappropriate posts from being read by other students and kept my students safe online. The safety issue was the biggest selling point for me since I was teaching middle schoolers. The best part was the ability to teach students what was and what wasn't appropriate for public online posting.
Digital applications like blogs and other learning tools are still viewed by some as fluff that has little to no impact on student learning. The truth is that these technologies are here and students are using them. It is our responsibility to teach students how to behave online otherwise they will make big life changing mistakes. Like the kids who posted things online then lost their scholarships or acceptance to colleges. Blogs are a great way to introduce students to these technologies in a safe way.
Kidblog may not be right for every classroom, so here are a few other options: