Encouraging students to publish outside of the classroom

“Last night on Kidblog I wrote about……”, “Over the weekend I blogged about my……” Would these be phrases you would like to hear in your classroom? Me too! When we have created a community of writers who take time outside of “assignments” to write then we have had an influence in the literary world.

Encouraging students to write beyond our classroom and school assignments and then finding that they did so is a remarkable feeling. I remember the first time I heard students talking amongst themselves about blogging over the weekend or after school one night on Kidblog. To them, it was “really cool”. I loved the energy that flowed through them as they were sharing with their classmates about what they wrote. Having a place to publish their thoughts for others to read and respond is extremely motivating for students. This is an intrinsic motivation that results in the developing writer.

As educators, we have the opportunity to invite our writers to expand beyond their classroom experience. There are three things I would like to share that encourage students to write and post on Kidblog beyond the school day:

1.) The first thing I realized when I began encouraging students to blog outside of school – many of them did not know this was an option.  I was surprised when students responded, “Really… we could post and write things outside of school?!” This question made me realize that if I don’t tell them explicitly, they won’t know that this is available to them. Spread the word- encourage students to post and respond to posts outside of your classroom. You could even add extrinsic motivation for students, like choosing one student from all those who write to receive a prize or the opportunity to show their blog post to the whole class.

2.) I want to share something one of my colleagues did with her class that I found creative and effective. She created a blog about “the day in the life of her doggie”. She would blog about life from her dog’s perspective (or assumption of what it would be). Through telling about life through her dog’s eyes, she engaged students in reading what she was writing. Students were eager to respond back to her dog. Introducing an idea similar to this will give students concrete ideas on what to blog about outside of the classroom. How fun would it be to invite the students to create their own “In the Life” of their own pets that they could write about at home?!

3.) Finally, create a game or add some healthy competition to encourage publishing outside of the classroom. This could be set up in a couple of different ways. Recently, I have tried a new game. I create a question for my students to respond. While it sounds simple, it gets tricky. For example my sentence might be: “Who is your favorite book character and why do you like that character?” I then leave a comment on a previous student’s post leaving words from my sentence in bold within the comment. The students are tasked with finding the bold words, crafting the sentence together and writing a response back on the designated blog post- without giving the sentence away. I have a deadline set and everyone who completes it by that deadline will earn a prize/recognition.

Engaging students in writing outside of the classroom is a win-win for everyone. Make sure the students are aware of the ability to write outside of the classroom and encourage them to do so. While this may sound impossible, there are countless way to start. Try finding a way to engage them through a blog spot that is only reserved for outside of school, or an interactive way for them to make a game/competition out of it will help them to be more avid bloggers.

About the Author
I identify myself as a facilitator of dreaming, learning, and living, I strive to bring all of these components into my classroom. I have been teaching in public k-12 for eight years, most of my experience is in grades 4th and 6th although I have had a nice sampling of all grades K-6 except 3rd grade. I love seeing the “ah ha” moment that spreads across a student’s face when they realize they understand a concept, especially when they have struggled in the learning process. I am constantly awed by the insights and depth of student thinking. I enjoy being an advisor to our Student Ambassador Leadership Team (student government) and their desires to have a positive impact in making a difference in our school and community. Outside of school I spend time with family, and my dog Hollie. I enjoy paper crafting and teach others this fabulous hobby as well. All in all I just try to dream, learn and live!

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