Promote Student Expression​ through Storytelling

Practicing commenting on paper @woodlandtaglets @anna_bilyeuDepending on particular class content, concepts, or topics, blogging can have a strong, positive impact on several aspects of the learning process.  Recently, I have found that providing students with a short prompt and having them create or tell a story has been extremely beneficial. In doing this, they not only build knowledge and skills in the relevant academic area, but also improve their writing, literacy, and critical thinking skills.  In addition to these learning opportunities, blogging also gives students a means to build skills in technology and become reflective writers in the process.

One way to guide students in writing successful stories is to provide them with writing prompts. Typically, I aim to supply a writing prompt focused on a certain theme we have been covering in class.  This assignment enables me to provide differentiation in their learning and lends itself to more student creativity and choice. I post a writing prompt related to a recent class lesson or theme and ask the students to be creative with their responses. Being a foreign language teacher, I often provide my students with a few specific elements that I would like the responses to contain. Depending on the content area, these elements range from the use of a specific verb or verb tense, a focus on grammar usage, topic of discussion, specific style of narration, or a method of debating an issue.

One example in a foreign language class may be discussing one’s childhood.  By providing a prompt which asks for students to discuss their childhood, they are focused on narrating in the past tense and using specific themed vocabulary.  By requiring students to use a few specific verbs in the blog, it helps to guide their practice with an area in which students may be having some difficulty.

Using blogging in this way has helped promote student discussion and creativity and has served as an alternate means for student assessment. It enables teachers to provide reinforcement of specific content in an individualized way that promotes more authentic learning. For students, it provides a unique way to complete a homework assignment, share ideas, and develop critical thinking skills and learning in multiple areas.

Kidblog has been an awesome medium to get students creating and writing in class. One feature of Kidblog that has helped increase engagement for students in any writing prompt and, in some cases, may also be used as a prompt itself, is the ability to add a photo to your post. Using the photo as a focus helps promote discussion and increase curiosity. Kidblog provides students with the option to enhance creativity through the diverse images and formatting choices. Images and customized formatting brings students’ writing to life and provides a way for instruction to be personalized for each student.

Giving students options empowers them in their choice for writing, and leads to a more engaging and fun learning experience.

About the Author
I am a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. I am also an attorney and earned my Juris Doctor Degree from Duquesne University School of Law and have a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. I am the Communications Chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network, the President-Elect and Innovations and Resources Co-Chair for the Teacher Education Network and the PAECT Historian. I was selected as the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT (the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications in Technology, the PA affiliate of ISTE) and by the NSBA as one of the "20 to watch" educators. I am proud to be involved in several communities including being a Common Sense Media Educator, an Ambassador for BloxelsEDU, Buncee, CoSpaces, Flipgrid, Hoonuit, and an Edmodo Certified Trainer, Nearpod PioNear, Recap Pioneer, TES Ambassador and Ambassador for several other networks. I wrote chapter 3 of the Edumatch book “Snapshot in Education 2016”, and I am a contributing author to “Gamify Literacy” from ISTE. I enjoy blogging and writing for Kidblog and I am always looking for new learning opportunities to benefit my students. You can connect with me on Twitter @rdene915.

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