All that writing and you don’t have a single grade? This discussion came up in the faculty lunch room last week. Should we be grading student blogs? It seems silly to have students spend so much time on writing, then not grade it. But after much consideration, I realized it all goes back to your purpose. Is the purpose of blogging to have students respond to prompts is a structured, standardized manner? Or is your purpose to allow students to explore writing, learn how to handle critique, and grow as an online contributor? If it’s the former, then get out your red pen. But as someone who falls into the second category, let me explain why I chose not to grade my students’ blogs.
For me blogging is about student engagement, intrinsic motivation, and the writing process. I want my students to put forth their best effort, but I also want them to enjoy writing without the stress of a grade. How can I ask the students to take risks and to not be afraid of failure, when I am holding a red pen? Blogging should foster intrinsic motivation. Make it creative, make it challenging, but most importantly, make it something that the students want to do.
Here are some fun ways to use blogs in classroom that foster student motivation.
- Student choice with writing topics
- Diary Entries
- Critics Corner (have students critique newly released movies, toys, websites, etc
- Finish the story prompts (ex: I heard a loud crash. When I turned around…)
- Weekly Blogging Challenges
- A week in review post
Another reason why I chose not to grade my students’ blogs is because blogging supports the writing process. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Through blogging, my students have become better writers because suddenly they care more about revision. They take the time to read and reread their work because they want to post their very best product. In class, I’ve watched my reluctant writer work hard on his posts. He revises what has been written, has another student help check his work, and then does a fist pump when he gets more than five comments. There’s no grade in the world that would come close to equaling the value of his learning. He learned that his hard work pays off, he learned what success feels like, and he learned that he can be a good writer. No grade necessary.
If you want your students to practice writing, experiment with new ideas, and to be creative in what they share… don’t grade their blog posts. Instead, give them a space to task risks. Help them learn how to handle critique and grow from it. Show them that writing is personal and fun. All in all, just put down the red pen and enjoy your students’ blogging journey.