To blog or not to blog? That is the question. When you look at the benefits that blogging can bring to a student’s learning and educational experience, then the answer most certainly is yes. This is a topic that I struggled with early in my career as an elementary school teacher. I admit that I used to think that allowing students the ability to interact publicly could potentially create more problems than solutions. However, as I began to implement blogging in my classroom, it transformed how I viewed writing as a whole. No matter the age or level of expertise, blogging is a great format to express oneself.
Students Try Harder
When I used to have my students write in the classroom, they quickly figured out that there would be only a few people looking at and critiquing their work. I often suspected that the quality wasn’t going to be their absolute best. Once I introduced them to blogging and explained how their work would be seen by people all over the world, the level of effort and care dramatically increased. They began to try harder than I had ever seen before. Students were trying to perfect their writing, taking careful consideration to their grammar and conventions – something that I had not seen before at that level.
As a traditionally trained writer, I was not introduced to the concepts of audience, purpose, and form as integral components of writing assignments for my students. Previously, I doled out writing assignments that required students to answer a prompt or to write an essay. My students knew I was the only person who would read their finished work. They also knew that my primary reason for reading their writing was to assign a grade.
Now with blogging, I am asking students to write for a genuine audience beyond the classroom. Their purpose is to communicate effectively with that reader, whether to inform other students of interesting books that they read, to persuade the reader to agree with their position on an issue, or to allow their creativity to be on display. Writing for audiences beyond the teacher using publicly recognized formats such as blogging has produced highly effective writing for my students.
One of the biggest “ah-ha” moments in my teaching career was when I finally realized how to involve students in each other’s writing in new, engaging ways. For so long, I would have the students grouped with a partner and give them time to read and edit their partner’s work in class. As a result, I would waste countless hours of instruction by monitoring and correcting student behavior, instead of seeing improvements in their work. Only when I started using blogging as a tool for communication and peer interaction, did I notice their writing become increasing more rigorous and accountable. Blogging allows students to not only collaborate with their peers in the classroom, but also with others from around the world, who may or may not share the same ideas. Hence, dialogue and open communication was born and gave rise to students being able to bounce ideas off one another.
Blogging is intended to be a means of communication and allow students to connect to the “real-world”. Is there anything holding you back?
Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond via flickr cc