As the year winds down here and we teachers are counting down to our long-awaited break, there are many meetings and workshops. Today was also the day for our Personalized Professional Development groups to share their findings and present their ideas to the faculty. One of the presentations today described projects in all three divisions - lower, middle and upper school - to introduce students to blogging.
Since blogging is obviously of particular interest to me, I thought it was worthwhile to share some ideas for student blogging. The observation across the board from teachers of children of all ages was that students loved to see their work published online. After listening to the presentation of my colleagues and reflecting on the idea, I have listed the following benefits of blog-published student writing:
1. Students can share their work with anyone.
When their work is published online, it can be easily viewed by friends and family anywhere in the world. You can even link to student work on websites, social networking tools or even with QR codes, as mentioned in a previous post. It can also be easily included in a digital portfolio of work that spans a student's entire education. On several occasions, I have had to move the giant plastic bins of work that my mom saved over the years and, let me tell you, a digital portfolio is a good idea...
2. Students can made editions and changes over time.
When it comes to digital writing and publishing, there really is no such thing as a final draft. Blog entries are a great way to add and modify information over time, particularly with research or reflective journal writing.
3. Other students and readers can comment and interact.
Throughout my high school and college careers, my written work was generally viewed only by me and my teacher/professor. The only feedback I ever received on my ideas was from the individual who graded it. Professors were just beginning to experiment with online forums and closed network sites when I was in college. The potential, however, for collaboration and exchange of ideas with blogging is exciting, particularly for students who struggle with writing. In a truly collaborative environment, students can discuss with others and tease out ideas before committing them to a draft.
4. Students can be constantly connected with their work.
There is no knowing when the best ideas will strike you. As we move into an age with smart phones and other internet-connected devices, students are more likely to have their mobile device with them at all times than their notebooks and computers. With simple list-making, calendar and blogging apps, students can track ideas, manage their time and merge changes with more ease.
5. It's worth a try.
Particularly with reading and writing, it is worth trying many different methods, genres and types of experiences to see which one "sticks." We have all seen reluctant readers finally connect with some kind of text, and blog writing could be the kind of writing that really reaches a reluctant writer. It won't work for everyone, but it's worth a shot. Setting up a custom blog for your class is free and easy, so give it a whirl!