In my four years of teaching, I have observed the enthusiasm of my 6th grade writers dwindle from year to year. Last year specifically, when asking my students their thoughts on writing, I was overwhelmed by their negativity and disdain for writing. I couldn’t help but wonder, why?
As cliché as it may sound, in the age of texting and ever-present social media, we really are facing the loss of an art form: writing. With technology at our fingertips, we are no longer held accountable for our spelling (e.g. autocorrect). For our students, their speed of texting takes priority over syntax rules such as capitalizing “i” or the half-second it takes to type “you” as opposed to “u.” Spelling and grammar aside, many of my students described writing as boring, or something they only did when they had to. As a twenty-five-year-old teacher, I was in shock! Our generational gap could not possibly be big enough to hold such a transformation in a young student’s thoughts on writing, could it?? But then I realized, perhaps it was.
As a young teacher, I feel as though I can relate to my students on many levels, but how could I show them the journey that comes along with writing? How could I instill the same love of writing my fourth grade teacher instilled in me? How could I teach them that writing is exciting, thought provoking, an escape from reality, a place to explore their hopes and dreams? Change the medium. Combine writing with something they are very much interested in, social media.
With some light research and googling, I stumbled upon Kidblog. A safe outlet for my students to explore their creativity and become a part of a much bigger picture, a writing community filled with their classmates. After an easy set up process, I was ready to introduce “Bulldog Blogs” to my 6th graders. I was thrilled and motivated by their excitement, determined to sustain their enthusiasm by utilizing our blog to the fullest.
I am certain that using a writing blog with my 6th graders changed the course of my Language Arts Enrichment class tenfold. Was I able to transform the writing opinions of every student? Perhaps not. I am, however, extremely confident that our blog helped me reach many students, even some of the naysayers I met in the beginning of the year. I couldn’t help but smile as I would see blog posts pop up that weren’t assigned and receive emails from eager bloggers asking me to please approve their comment on their fellow classmate’s blog post.
A new school year is in full swing and an introduction of my current students to our class blog has been made. The enthusiasm is building, and now the fun begins!
Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger via flickr cc