Blogging… Do your students do it and do they get it?
I have been encouraging my students to get involved in blogging for the past several months. I haven’t been terribly too successful. I show them mine, and how it works. I set up a blog for them to read and make comments on in their free time at home. I know that working in an urban district not all of my students have easy access to a computer. The blogging sites at my school are blocked for students, and that doesn’t help either. So I have been trying to get them to be creative if they can and blog about their interests.
I know many of my students are on Facebook and MySpace, and very few if any are on Twitter, but have some sense of social media etiquette. A few weeks ago I wrote how teachers should be using social media with children. I know that many of my students post on these social media sites about their feelings, doings, and thoughts. Now I am trying to get my students to see that those social media sites and blogging have several things in common. I want them to see that posting on MySpace and Facebook are short messages people read are similar to what people do when they blog.
I was watching Keith Olbermann last night and he had a story about college students not improving their writing or critical thinking skills while in college. It got me thinking about what do I do in the classroom to help them improve in those skills. In their regular education class, my gifted students focus a lot of attention to math and reading. They focus some attention to answering short and extended responses in their writing exams (a lot of urban students skip these questions, which is why we focus on them so much.) I believe that we need to get children to see writing as more than something they need to do on an exam. I believe that blogging and the use of social media as a whole can do that.
My list as to why blogging is important:
1. Blogging allows students to write for a real audience. Without a real audience why write? (I know journals and diaries are different.)
2. Blogging gives students a feeling of accomplishment when someone reads their writing and makes a comment about it. It gives them the feeling that they are connecting with others.
3. Blogging allows students the opportunity to put into writing some of their interests and hobbies.
4. Blogging gives students the chance to write for something other than what a teacher assigns or for an exam. It can be for entertainment.
5. Blogging can give students the chance to have an identity. They can be a food, book or movie critic; or a sportscaster posting the latest commentary on the baseball, basketball, or football game for ESPN; or a story-teller of science or historical fiction in blog posts of events that have happened or will happen. The roles are endless.
6. A lot of times when students know that others will read their work they will work harder at making sure what they write is their best work.
7. Blogging can bring out the creativity in some students. They can experiment with different kinds of writing styles, and can experiment with using first or third person, and other writing elements they may be taught in their writing class.
These are just a few ideas of why I think blogging is important. You may have other ideas of your own based on your students and your experiences.
The next think that I have to do is to get my students interested in doing this on their own, or to want to guest post on someone’s blog. My students are smart, gifted, and opinionated people. Trying to get them to enjoy something like writing is tough, even for this crowd.