Students as Owners of their Work: Writing beyond social media

Everyone knows Twitter allows you to write 140 characters.  These two sentences are at that limit, but what about other things I want to say?

Students today are limited to what I call “quick writing.”  They only write what comes quickly to their mind and in short segments.  I use Kidblog to try to get over that fear, as well as the “laziness” of quick writing.

For me, Kidblog is a tool that allows my students to share their work with their peers – just like social media – but in more than the typical 140 characters or short, nondescript posts.  This journey begins with just getting them to write, to get ideas out of their heads and on to the screen.

In most instances, I allow students the freedom to write on a topic of their choice.  Because of this, they take more ownership as it is generally a topic that they are an “expert” in or interested in exploring.  This type of free writing gives me, as the teacher, the ability to see their growth, and, more importantly, it allows the students to see their growth.

My students publish everything they write, even with the grammatical and spelling errors that come with the first drafts.  I believe that the benefits of getting ideas out of students’ minds and into a published piece outweigh the challenges presented with the errors.  The journey I take with the students through the year allows for that correction later on.

I also see the students reading each other’s posts and commenting on the ideas shared as well as noting the grammatical mistakes missed, all without prompting.  They like the idea of being able to say what they think – an idea that has been ingrained into them by social media. Kidblog gives teachers the opportunity to moderate all comments that have been published.

From these blogs, we then take ideas for more formal pieces of writing to elaborate on the ideas presented.  Essays, websites, letters, projects and other types of writing have resulted from a simple blog post about a topic they were interested in.

Writing can be fun.  Social media shows us that students believe this, as well.  My role as a teacher is to show them that writing can go beyond the 140-character limit and short updates and that they do have the ability to get beyond this limit. Their voices are worth being heard, if only they are given the chance to do so.

About the Author
Tabitha is a 7th grade English Literacy teacher in Mexico. She has been teaching in Mexico for close to 10 years, at all age levels from Kindergarten to adult, to students of various degrees of English ability. She has taught GED and TOEFL preparation classes as well as specific English classes for accountants, nurses, businessmen, technology and others, besides teaching Spanish classes for non-natives.

2 comments

  1. Kirti Tripathi

    It is good to hear of your successes. I tried it for l year, but it didn’t really take off with my grade 12students as expected…The flow of info was only from me go them… So I left it… But your post encourages me to rethink..

    • Tabitha

      Thank you, Kirti for expressing your struggles. I know it is hard. Hopefully, you can get something going again. I feel my students like it as an expression of who they are, which they don’t get through other projects. Someone in the class hears them and can relate to them. Keep trying and good luck.

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