Monday, December 15, 2014

3 Steps for an Incredible Google Spreadsheet Lesson

     I met with a Math teacher this week who has been utilizing Google Spreadsheets with her students to create opportunities for them to collect and analyze data.  The data piece is a major component in the Bright Bytes goals we set for ourselves, because having students collect and analyze data shows up in the Iowa Core's Universal Constructs and lends the skills to formative assessments given online.  Here's how it can work:

     1- Students collaborate to formulate a question on a relevant topic they want to research.  Some examples might include: How long does it take me to get from 1st hour class to 2nd hour class?  Or, how much sediment is deposited/ eroded from the creek bed next to the school every week?  Or, of the students in our school, how many use Chrome vs. Firefox vs. other?

     2- Students input the data manually into the spreadsheet.  Another extension step would be to have students create a form to collect the data, or crowd source the collection.  This could lead to great discussions about statistical significance and data validity.

     3- Use tools in Google Sheets, like insert a chart, to represent the data graphically in multiple ways.

     From there, students can make predictions and analyze different data points.  This type of task is relatively simple, relevant, and lends itself to all sorts of collaboration, enrichment and extension activities.

Friday, November 28, 2014

5 Questions to Ask Before Using Class Dojo

    A recent New York Times article posted to the Iowa GEG Google+ Community, a blog article from Teaching Ace on Class Dojo and tasing kids, a question from one of my teachers, and this blog post by Joe Bower (who does an excellent job of citing sources and gathering many different theories on motivation) got me thinking about Class Dojo and other classroom management tools/ strategies/ apps this week.  I did have the opportunity to use Class Dojo a few years ago, but because I had a strong classroom management philosophy that did not completely "mesh" with the intended use of Class Dojo, I repurposed the intent of the app to achieve a completely new means to a different end altogether.  More on that later...

    When it comes to making sure all of your students are engaged with the lesson and learning at high levels in a safe and effective environment, choosing the right classroom management tool/ strategy to match your teaching personality is paramount to student success.  When choosing a tool or strategy, let me give some advice that was given to me early in my career, and has made an incredible difference:
Source: At Whit's End Blog
     Knowing that no management tool, strategy or technique I used would be effective if my students felt like I didn't care about them as people helped to form my own classroom management experiences.  Here are a few questions to ask before you choose an app, tool or strategy:

1) Does the app/ tool/ strategy allow for meaningful conversation, individualized feedback, and periodic reflection for both student and teacher? Or does it help manage a reactive type of relationship?
2) Does the app give your students a voice in the classroom rules? Do students have a significant role in shaping the written norms of the classroom? Or does the app police the rules imposed on the students?
3) Does the app give you time and opportunity to invest in each student personally and strive to make them feel welcome and loved in your classroom? Or does the app simply publicly announce misbehavior and/or positive behaviors?
4) Does the app allow you to model kindness, autonomy, forgiveness, grace, and leadership? Or does it cause you to model harshness, escalation, and indifference?
5) Does the app allow for students to be aware of procedures for misbehavior?  Will it allow students to reflect on behavior and have an opportunity to adjust? Or does it impose consequences for misbehavior?

     If you are at a point where you're ready to begin using a tool like Class Dojo, or a technique like Behavior Clip charts, or anything similar, take a moment to think about these questions:

1) What is the end result you see happening from adding this tool?
2) Is the tool designed to enhance what you are doing, or detract from it?
3) What are some alternatives that you've looked at? What makes this tool better than any other?
4) Are there specific classroom behaviors or student issues that you are trying to address with this app?  What features do you like about this tool?
5) What do you plan to do if the students don't respond to the tool the way you anticipated?

     I have some pretty strong personal beliefs when it comes to the debate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and I also know a great teacher will maximize any tool if she feels it helps her students grow and learn in significant ways.  Personally, I wouldn't ever use a tool for the sake of the tool; rather, I want to do things for the sake of each student.  

     When I had the opportunity to use Class Dojo, I took the app to my students and had them brainstorm ways we might want to use the app in class. A few students liked the app's design, including the little monsters, but were wary of the "points for behavior" system.  This led to a great discussion about our classroom and what kind of environment we had- and how using Class Dojo the way it was intended did not fit our shared values for the class.  A student then suggested something fun- to use Class Dojo as a point tracking system for an end of the day trivia/ exit ticket contest.  I would ask questions, possibly from trivia cards (like you find in Trivial Pursuit games), or from essential skills we learned that day. Students would give me answers to the questions; sometimes students would answer after a group discussion, other times they would take a guess individually.  There were a few times when I had students write their answers down, and add their own points.  Occasionally, I'd have them add a point for each standard they had met that week.  

     At the end of the week, we'd look at the points tallied, talk about our answers, and decide who the winner was.  Many times it wasn't the student with the most points, but rather the student who gave the most to the class that week.  I'd then let them choose their prize- who got to use my teacher's chair for the week.  I was most proud when the winner would choose another student in the class to use the chair- just to let them know we valued everyone in our class.  

     Was this the best way to use Class Dojo?  I'm not completely sure.  I do know, however, it wasn't the app that created that environment, or even sustained it.  It was us choosing to be better for each other.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Read and Write for Google Extension

for Google
   Google Chrome is an incredibly powerful web browser for both teachers and students, and once you begin customizing your Chrome experience with Apps and Extensions from the Chrome Web Store, you'll find yourself never using another browser again.

     A teacher this week showed me the Read and Write for Google extension from  The extension, when added, will look at web pages and read the text on the page aloud.  Students can use this extension to highlight words and take notes, along with "Simplifying" the website into a text-only site.  Some features, however, expire after the 30 day trial.

    This particular teacher said she uses Read and Write for Google to read aloud what her students have written in Google Docs- a kind of self- editing via listening tool.  I can also see this being extremely helpful as an assistive tool for students that are struggling with texts, but need to remain independent in their reading.


Friday, November 21, 2014

2 Ways to Engage Students with 3D Printing

Image from:
     I'm fortunate enough to work in districts where there are incredible teachers looking to continually provide high quality experiences for our students using the latest technology and pedagogy.  Recently, I worked with a high school science teacher that really wanted to use his 3D printer for student critical thinking and collaborative projects.  This particular teacher knew that it would be a big undertaking, but he also wanted to move away from simply printing objects downloaded from Thingiverse.

     We introduced Autodesk's 123D Design web software to his physical science class, and let them play after a short tutorial.  I like using Autodesk for a few reasons:
- It's free!
- Students and teachers can use Google credentialing to sign in.
- It's fairly easy to use, and has an iPad app as well.
- 123D Design plays nicely with the Makerbot printers, and actually has a host of other apps from Autodesk which work together
- Autodesk offers loads of lesson plans, tutorials, and self-directed, digital STEAM 3D projects that are all available for free here.

     After the students became more familiar with the software, their teacher challenged them to solve a few real-world problems by creating and printing their ideas. One problem was to design a product that could aid a student who consistently loses pencils, or has an assistive need for such a device.  His students were very creative- and afterwards had great discussions and reflections over their designs and issues.
See-through pencil holder clips to a backpack. 
This simple design allows pencils to clip to the ring,
while the ring is attached to a bag using the small hole.

     Another task was to work collaboratively to design one of four wheels that would fit on a printed cart.  Students individually created wheels, hubs, and tires; however, each student had to work with another to make sure their individual wheel, when added to the cart, would allow the cart to roll and function.
Student designed and printed cart needs wheels, and an axle,
which are provided by other students.
Students had to collaborate to design wheels with similar
diameters and axles hole diameters.

These are two examples of engaging students with engaging problems, collaborative critical thinking skills, and reflective analysis of learning objectives.  The best advice when doing something similar with 3D printing and imaging software is to take the time to scaffold the skills needed for a larger project- don't throw this entire project, software and all, at the students all at once.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

gMath Add-ons for Google Forms

    Google recently released the capability to give add-ons to forms.  This is very handy in that you can now add gMath to your forms.  gMath helps to image complex mathematical symbols and equations to be used in a form.  This adds quite a few possibilities for creating online assessments for students, gathering formative data, or giving quick feedback to students based on form submissions.
    This can also be paired with a script like Flubaroo, which can take form answers and grade or score quizzes automatically.  Check the add-on menu when using a form to add gMath.

    After selecting gMath in the Add-ons menu, it gives you three options to create- math expressions, graphs, or statistical displays.  I chose the expressions.

     When you've made a choice, a sidebar will open giving you options for building your expression.  Typing code in the LaTex box can help you figure out what the image will look like that can be inserted into the form.  You also have an option to choose pre-made and commonly used expressions at the bottom of the sidebar.

   After getting the equation that you want, click the "Insert" button and gMath will create a new form question with your image.

     This add-on came to my attention after having some conversations with a middle school math teacher who wanted to use a Google Form and spreadsheet to create Histograms in algebra class.  The gMath add-on allowed her to create quizzes more tailored to her class.

     gMath also has an add-on for Google Docs, which adds the same functionality to a doc.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

EasyBib Docs Add-On

     Google has made searching and citing resources extremely easy and accessible within Docs.  One of the tools students can use to cite research in multiple formats is by using the add-on called EasyBib.  EasyBib is a website that can take information from multiple source styles and format them for bibliographies.  Students can use EasyBib to cite print articles, web articles, digital images, and even movies- up to 59 different types of sources.  EasyBib can also format to MLA, Chicago, APA, and more citation styles.

     Getting the Add-on in Docs takes only a few steps.  First, create a doc, then go to the "Add-Ons," search for EasyBib, then add by clicking "+Free."  Using EasyBib is as simple as entering the name of your source in the search field in the EasyBib sidebar that pops up.  Citations can be added to the end of documents from there!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Coding/ National Hour of Code thoughts and resources

The National Hour of Code, sponsored by and Computer Science Ed Week, is only a few short weeks away.  Of course, you don't need to wait until then to start coding with your students.  A few thoughts here as you begin the coding journey:

- Many nations are requiring coding as part of the national curriculum.  While the United States is not there as a whole yet, there are quite a few school districts across the U.S. that are incorporating coding classes for high school credit requirements.
From AEA267's Coding in the Classroom site,
originally from

- Coding is not just a math skill, or a computer science skill, but rather a thinking skill. Sure, the hallmarks of coding are computer programming and logic, but the real process for students lies in the problem-solving, collaborating, and critical thinking involved in solving coding problems.  Usually, the best coding programs will capitalize on the problem solving aspect for students.

- You don't have to be an expert coder to teach coding. I'd even posit that you probably don't even have to be good at computers to teach coding!  You just have to be the type of teacher that can give students an opportunity to own their own learning, take some risks, and be humble enough to learn alongside your students.

- Since you aren't the expert, bring in those that are. My best experiences with coding have been when I invited people from our community to come in and work with kids.  This included Math and Computer Science professors and students from our local university, parents that worked with computers, and people that use coding everyday at work.  Not only do the students benefit from having more adults around, the community can back what the students are doing as important and relevant.

- Find ways to keep the coding processes going throughout the year. Students tend to be intrinsically motivated by this, so see if you can work in the concepts into other lessons, or give your students some time to continue their coding projects frequently.  Perhaps the worst thing you can do is assign the coding or make it homework.  Chances are, students are going to want to do coding as homework anyway.

- Anyone can code. You, me, high school seniors, kindergarteners, 6th graders, parents, principals... all can code.  Let's figure out ways we can code together.

- You don't even need a computer to code! Some of the resources I'll link below teach coding concepts with paper/pencil, robots, play-dough, and all sorts of other things you most likely have laying around your classroom.  Of course, there are plenty of web apps, iPad apps, AEA check-out items, and things you can buy to teach coding listed below.

- Have fun, relax, and know that it ties to the Core. That's right!  Not only can coding hit ALL of the Universal Constructs, but you can creatively tie Math, ELA, Science, Social Studies, and 21st Century skills to coding.  The best part is that has links to those resources!

Here are a few resources as you plan:

- AEA267's Coding in the Classroom site

- My personal Symbaloo page of Coding sites I used in class

- The National Hour of Code's Youtube site

- Professor Ben Schafer's (University of 
Northern Iowa) sponsored free workshops for teachers and administrators

- Google's Made with Code site (geared specifically towards young ladies)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gooru gCon on Google Classroom

   This morning, The Gooru hosted a "Google Conference (gCon)" via live, free Hangouts covering three topics dealing with Google Apps for teachers.  Juan De Luca, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer from Mexico City, hosted a Q and A Hangout covering the how-to's of Google Classroom.  Even if you didn't catch the Hangout live, all the Hangouts are archived on The Gooru's Youtube channel.
   If Google Classroom has caught your attention, and you want to learn a little more about it, feel free to check out the archived Hangout below.
   The Gooru will also post videos from Hangouts covering "Streamline The Writing (and Grading) Process with Google Drive" (CLICK HERE) and another video over "Google Apps for Education Admin Rountable" (CLICK HERE).

Friday, October 31, 2014

ITEC 2014 North Tama PD

In order to digest everything that happened at ITEC this year, and to give teachers a chance to talk and review any new learnings, we've compiled the "Best of" links and presentations into these two Symbaloo pages.  Please feel free to click around and explore!

NT Elementary Symbaloo

NT Secondary Symbaloo

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autocrat and Google Forms

   I hosted a Google Apps Training session that had teachers submit a form, and their submissions showed up in a Google Doc which was emailed to them.  I assured them that this wasn't any type of Google magic, but rather a workflow spreadsheet script called AutoCrat by Andrew Stillman and the New Visions Cloud Lab in New York City.  We didn't get an opportunity to look at it further, so below is a video of how I set that up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

National Day on Writing and Word Clouds

    Today is National Day on Writing sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English in a partnership with the New York Times Learning Network.  The day is designed to give a focus and audience for writing- this year's focus is "Community;" students can use photos, film, graphics, blogs, pens, paper, etchings, graphs, murals or anything that celebrates writing in its many forms to express what students want people to know about their community.

    Make sure to check the National Day on Writing website to find articles, blog posts, and podcasts of student examples and teacher lesson plans for the day, which really extends into November.  You can also find a tweet-up about the event all day today at #writemycommunity.

    In honor of National Day on Writing, I also wanted to let you know of a new add-on for Google Docs which allows anyone using docs to make a word cloud within the doc.  A word cloud is a visual representation of a selection of text that shows the most commonly used words in larger fonts.
Tag, or Word, Clouds show visually which words are
used more than others in a document.  Here, "progress"
is used more in the writing piece because it is a larger font.
  I learned about this new add-on from the website- a great resource for educators looking to use technology in the classroom.  Richard Byrne, the author of, recommends using the word cloud generator with students in a multitude of ways (CLICK HERE).  I see this as a great tool to have students self-assess their writing by creating a word cloud which can show them the frequency of words in their document.

    Students can make adjustments for words that are overused or use the "Define" tool to find synonyms for commonly used words.  Check out the screenshots below to get an idea of how this works.

Select "Add-ons" and "Get Add-ons"

Search for "Tag Cloud Generator" and click "+ Free"

After the Generator has been added, access and enable it
by clicking "Add-ons" and choosing "Create Tag Cloud"

Friday, October 17, 2014

ITEC Fall Conference 2014


I got a chance to attend the Tuesday sessions of the ITEC Fall Conference this week, and pulled away with some great thoughts and resources for integrating technology in the classroom.  Of course, finding time to implement, play, and plan with these tools is always a challenge.  With that said, here's a link (CLICK HERE) to the session handouts for the entire conference for presenters that added their materials.

I am also adding a link (CLICK HERE) to the videos of the keynote speakers (Adam Bellow of EduClipper and Peter H. Reynolds, author of The Dot).  Take your time with these and make an effort to check out the presentation materials throughout the next month or two.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your colleagues (me included) about sessions we may have attended.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Creativity in the Secondary setting

       A couple of weeks ago I got to work with a group of secondary educators looking at Creativity in the Iowa Core and how we can use iPads to foster creativity in our students.  One high school teacher wanted to allow his students to use iPads to present over a historical figure.  The students were allowed to choose the app that fit their presentation, then shared their presentations publicly on the web for feedback and evaluation.  One student used an app called Shadow Puppets- her presentation is embedded below:

Another student used Educreations to talk about parts of MLK, Jr's life that inspired her.

A junior high teacher allowed her history students to present their research on explorers by either creating a Weebly website, a musical parody, or an iMovie news broadcast.

Click here for the lyrics to "All We Do is Boat" parody of "All We Do Is Win"- Awesome!

 What a fantastic way to engage our students and get them thinking critically about presentations, choosing the "right" tool or app, and collaborating to create something unique and powerful!

Monday, September 29, 2014

North Tama Iowa Core Universal Construct PD Resources

  The resource, article, and video links are listed below for North Tama's PD afternoon looking at the Iowa Core Universal Construct (and one of the 4 C's of the common core) of Student Collaboration (Click Here for Core reference).

1) Sarah Brown Wessling's Teaching Channel video on "Improving Teacher Practice"
2) Fisher and Frey's "Gradual Release of Responsibility" Model and video

QR Coded articles and videos:

Rubric Videos:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Uploading to Google Drive

     Google has made uploading and using Drive very simple.  Drive is an online (or cloud) hard drive where you can store any kind of file.  The video below walks through two ways to upload files from your computer into drive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Google Research Tool in Google Apps

A nice feature in Google Apps like Docs and Presentations is the Research Tool.  The tool gives users the freedom of a Google Search without leaving the Document.  Check this video below on how to use this in the classroom:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Creativity and +1 Monday North Tama Secondary PD 9/15

Here is the Presentation from today's PD with North Tama Secondary teachers- looking at Creativity as one of the 6 Universal Constructs in the Iowa Core.
Homework: Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk- Do Schools Kill Creativity?

North Tama Creativity Padlet

2nd Grade Literacy and iPads

      I met with a 2nd grade group last week who wanted to get some ideas on using their classroom set of iPads to promote higher-level thinking when it came to vocabulary.  I gave them a couple of options based on some philosophies that I have when it comes to tech integration:

1) The tech should be used to enable and enrich critical thinking skills, collaboration, complex communication, and/or creativity.

2) The iPad is best used to create an experience that cannot be replicated on paper (or other "analog" tools) and redefines the lesson plan into something they could only do with technology.

Here's what we came up with:

Option 1: Educreations, ShowMe, DoodleDraw, and other interactive white board apps.
     These apps are FREE (click on the names to go to the iTunes store), and enable students to create original works while recording their voice at the same time.  The team liked these apps because students could then show and explain their understanding of vocabulary words- either by drawing or adding pictures (even photos they take with the iPad), writing sentences or definitions, or recording themselves explaining the vocabulary terms.  Finished products could be exported to the teacher, or parents, or saved online.

Option 2: App smash, Scan, and URL shortener (click to see previous post on using URL shortener)
    The team ultimately chose this option because it allows a little more freedom for students to interact with/ evaluate/ analyze each other's work, enables creativity in a different sense, and simplifies some of the sharing capabilities.  Here's what we did:

-We went to and started a new "Wall."  Padlet is a collaborative web page where students can add a text/image square to a wall.  Here's a video on how to use it.  Padlet is also available on the Chrome Store and integrates with your Google Sign-in.

-After we started a wall, we took the web address name and shortened it with URL Shortener.  If you are signed in to your email account, it will automatically log you into Padlet.

- After we got our shortened URL, we clicked on "details" to get the QR code.  A QR code allows mobile devices to locate a webpage using the camera, rather than typing in a web address- how handy is that with iPads, young students, and complex web addresses?  VERY handy!  We next printed the QR codes and hung them on the wall. Students would use the "Scan" iPad app to photograph the QR code, and it will take them to our Padlet wall.

We set up our wall (see video link above), then got ready to teach our students.  The idea is that students can add posts, videos, pictures, links, and text to the wall dealing with their vocabulary words.  They can even leave comments and read others' posts, build off of each other's creations, and encourage feedback. What a great way to get students to think critically about their vocabulary and evaluate their learning!  Plus, the 2nd Grade team can send out the Padlet wall's web address to parents.  A very powerful tool.

Friday, September 12, 2014 URL Shortener

Ever find an incredible web tool that you want students to use, but the web address is so long and complicated it makes things difficult?  Do you have students that consistently have trouble even typing in simple web addresses? Using a URL shortener like is what you're looking for.  Check the video below to see how to use this incredible tool as a teacher:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tell Your Story with Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Here's a presentation of the "Tell Your Story" PD for Gladbrook-Reinbeck PD afternoon 9/10/2014.  We talked about influencing the message presented to the community about the school and how we can be a part of the message using social media.  All images used in the presentation are for educational use only.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TodaysMeet is a collaborative writing site.  Teachers can create a "room," then allow students to post text to a common board in 140 character limits.  Some nice features:

- It's Free! Plus, if you sign up, it will save your previously created rooms.
- As the "room" moderator, you can choose the web address of the room, set the length of time that the room will be open, embed or save the transcript of the conversations, and color code different writers.

Many teachers use this service to allow each of their students to ask questions, check skills, or backchannel during a lesson/ video.  I tend to use this during teacher presentations so they can ask questions during the presentation for everyone to see and respond to.

I did witness a 1st grade teacher who named her "room" after the sight word her students were working on- students used their iPads to type in the sight word to access the room, then type a sentence using the sight word.  Other students in the room would start online conversations with each other in the "room" about their sentences.  Talk about a very engaging way to teach sight words!

Feel free to comment below other ideas on using

Friday, August 29, 2014

Google Chrome Tab tricks/ shortcuts

Google Chrome Tab Tricks and Shortcuts:

PLC Resources

  "Professional Learning Communities" is becoming a more common phrase in today's schools, and with their promise of raising student achievement, aligning core to instruction, and clear assessment goals, why wouldn't a school want to give PLC's a look?  I am excited to see that our schools are taking this work seriously, because we believe it is what is best for our students.  

   The journey to true PLC's, however, can be tricky and a little vague, especially at first.  This is why I created the video below- to give you some resources to look at while meeting in your PLC's or to give you more background if you haven't read DuFour's Learning By Doing from Solution Tree.

Here are the links I referenced in the video:
All Things Assessment

Here's one more from Engage NY

Here's Solution Tree's YouTube page with informational videos

Please comment below if you have found other resources that help in your PLC work!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Google Classroom

   Google has made a new tool available for educational domains called Classroom, which enables teachers to seamlessly and easily assign  Google Apps work to groups of students.  Classroom works like this:
A teacher logs into Classroom, and starts a class.  Once inside the class, the teacher can add students.  Students then "join" the class by entering in a unique class code. Using files created in Drive, the teacher can then "assign" work to any student in the class via  Google Apps.  The assigned work is then "turned in" by a specified date, and Classroom allows the teacher to leave comments and grades on the work.  The best part is that all of this happens in the cloud using  Google Apps.
  Another function of Classroom is for teachers and students to have feedback conversations through a chat feature.  Assignments and chats can also be emailed to students, along with due dates.

   Below is a video created by Roger Nixon showing both the Student view in Classroom and the Teacher view in Classroom:

Classroom makes sharing a single document with multiple students quick and easy, where each student gets their own copy of the document.  Classroom also allows teachers to share links, videos and attachments with students. While  Google claims that Classroom is not intended to be a Learning Management System (LMS), it does make sharing docs with students and grading those docs far easier than before.

   Jonathan Wylie also has a great blog post (CLICK HERE) on getting started with Classroom.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


   WeVideo is a collaborative, cloud-based video editor/ creator.  Once you upload or record raw footage, you can edit the footage together with transitions, titles, backgrounds, and even add voiceovers.  The reasons I like WeVideo include:
1) It's free to signup and use!  Even better, you can sign-up by using your Google account.
2) You can invite friends to collaborate on the creation of your video.
3) You can link your Google Drive account or Dropbox account to upload/ download your videos.
4) You can have multiple projects working at once.

WeVideo's interface is very user friendly and I have found that my students can figure it out rather quickly- much easier than Windows Movie Maker (I've also used with students).  While it is not as powerful as iMovie, the simplicity of controls does not take away from a great-looking end product.

The free version of WeVideo does limit the video quality, size, and number of exports one can do in a month, but they do offer tiered payment plans for more avid video editors.

**update**- WeVideo keeps getting better- their new UI keeps getting better... and you can download the app straight to Google Drive!

Friday, August 8, 2014


 Kidblog is a student online blogging platform that I have been using for a few years now.  I really enjoy using this system for a number of reasons:

1) It's free! My first rule for classroom software...
2) The teacher is the administrator for all student accounts and passwords- no waiting for a password reset or asking for permission to read a draft of a post or comment.
3) It is very intuitive and offers a great visual interface that is easy for students to use, but also allows those "advanced" students a chance to explore simple blog programming.
4) Once all the students are added to the system, they can be ported to a new teacher/ classroom the following year without re-creating every account.

Kidblog also offers some nice features (they have been updating these features on a regular basis recently) that allow users to link their blogs to their Google Drive or Evernote accounts.  I also make use of the "post broadcasting," which allows me to create a single post which is then sent to all my accounts for different classes.

I use Kidblog primarily to allow students the freedom to write "on-demand" pieces from prompts AND to give each other comments.  This is a really powerful tool when I have students offer advice, peer coach, and encourage each other in their writing.

Kidblog is where we can take our final drafts from more extensive writing in our Google Drive accounts and post them.

Lastly, the blog has also become a place where we can embed creations from iPad or web apps and house them permanently.  I also understand that by the end of the school year, Kidblog will allow teachers to download offline copies of every students blog- something the student can take with them after they leave your class.

If you're looking for a neat way to incorporate higher order thinking and evaluation into your classroom's writing experience, give Kidblog a try.  Still a little wary?  Check out my classroom blog HERE.

3 Classroom Blogging resources I use:
Comments4Kids- a resource for signing up your classroom to receive comments from students worldwide.

Imagination Prompt Generator- the IPG is a website that gives students simple prompts to help them begin on-demand and free-writing opportunities.

180 Prompts- a teacher designed website that has 180 different writing prompts paired with pictures/ videos to aid in the creativity process.

1 iPad app I use for Classroom Blogging:
Educreations- An interactive whiteboard that allows students to record voice over what they write AND gives the ability to embed final creations into a website.