Why I Blog with my Class

IMG_1042-0.PNG Teachers are continually asking their students to write. Students respond to prompts, write personal narratives, write up science labs, share their thinking about math problems, reflect on their learning, compose poetry etc, etc. If you work in elementary education, you know as well as I do, the list seems endless. What happens to all this writing? While some is shared with classmates, getting a fleeting but authentic response in the form of audience reaction, most comes to the teacher for grading and returns to the student to subsequently languish under the desk, never to be looked at again. Blogging turns this model on its head. Now children are choosing to write for an audience, not only of their peers, but the wider world beyond. As they learn to comment and provide feedback to one another on what works in a piece of writing, they build awareness of writer’s craft. The teacher’s previously obscure obsession with accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation becomes a shared standard for publication. Comments are approved by the class and group-edited for accuracy, raising the level of concern about writing in standard English. This, of all initiatives I have ever attempted, has had the most significant impact in improving students’ use of conventions. With the advent of blogging in my classroom, writing has become a genuine form of communication. The blog has become something between a living yearbook, a news sheet and a class literary magazine. Students create posts to report on class activities or events they find significant and invite classmates to share their opinions in comments. They post their favorite creative writing pieces to share with their classmates, who enthusiastically respond. Longer pieces are released in installments to build the anticipation, with students writing comments begging for the next episode! Students respond very positively to blogging. The mother of a student who had joined the class with limited English shared with me how much it meant to her son when he received comments on his story from students he considered to be the good writers of the class and how motivated he became to write in English. Here are some responses from my students last week when I asked them what they liked about writing for our blog: “I feel special because they really liked my story and took the time to read my work and give good feedback. It’s really encouraging.” “I like it because I feel I am a real author.” “It makes me me better as a writer because the feedback helps me to improve.” “I feel really good that people enjoy my writing.” “It encourages me to write more!” Click O.W.L. to visit our blog!

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3 Responses to Why I Blog with my Class

  1. david preen says:

    This is a rich seam. Nearly all my teaching has been with children post eleven. There I found that giving children a rich variety of audiences expanded their confidence and joy in writing. I guess that those who like a very organised program of work could even make journey through audiences the mapping theme for their children’s writing program (and for other aspects such as speaking.) My teenagers responded very naturally to the idea of selecting form, plot, style to suit their audience. They enjoyed the idea that just as they chose different kit for different activities with different people, they could match their writing for their audience. Those of us who have had that awkward experience of changing school and losing our home audience probably never forget how inhibiting for weeks that can be. On the other hand what a growth point it can be for a youngster to conquer a brand new audience.


  2. David Preen says:

    I suppose it could be called blogging! In post eleven set ups, where children rattle from teacher to teacher through the day, a Corridor Express can be a social unifier, not only for those within a class but across classes. The corridor, Penny alludes to, was lined with a desert of dreary notice boards, garnished with a few desolate posters and notices. My classes took them over and put up whatever they thought had been interesting writing for cross-class publication.Few rules: the main one,writers not to offend e.g. no personal allusions- and the like. I kept only a watching brief and by no means an iron grip!.All readers were invited to write comments and possible improvements, on separate, different coloured paper. Again I emphasised the collaborative and positive in all this. As you say in your blog, Penny, it is striking how much more meaningful the whole apparatus of punctuation and the like, becomes for a writer ( and that is pretty well at any age) when the work is out there for all the world to see. And what a buzz when it scores a hit.David


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