One of the most common topics while sitting in the teachers’ lounge or at any professional development session is the need for students to write. You hear comments like “students write as if they are texting,” “their writing is horrid,” and so on. The list of concerns goes on, but you get the drift. In short, the students appear to have little to no command of writing conventions. Everyone is going in circles trying to figure out how to get students to write complete sentences that makes sense. It seems as if writing went from the staunch grammar class side (gerunds and past present perfect participles still give me the willies) to the casual side of “oh, they will get it if they read their own writing.”
We know students are in dire need of writing experiences that have a purpose (not busy work), and if, it will instill a desire to write more, that would be ideal. I, too, see the need to get students to communicate effectively using the printed word. Blogging will get students writing. After all, that is what blogging is all about. It is the desire to get my students composing that prompted me to take this class. I have tried talking various administrators into letting me blog with my computer classes for years but to no avail. I figured maybe if I took the class, I would have a solid foundation on which to base my request.
Like a lot of others, I subscribe to numerous RSS feeds, most have something to do with food. I love baking and cooking and have many food allergies, so I like getting recipes I don’t have to adapt. One of the blogs I follow is Foodie Fiasco. The site is the creation of a teenage girl. She has been blogging about her adventures in the kitchen for a couple of years now. She is not the only school-aged person out there running a blog, so I am thinking, “why wouldn’t this work with my students?”
There is a lot of information out there about student blogs. Just about every article I read for this course expounded on the fact that blogging is writing…with a purpose. In the article Blogs: personal e-learning spaces, it describes blogs as just an extension of the tried and true learning logs and journals. Blogs take something personal and turn it into a “public performance space” (Lamshed, Berry, and Armstrong, 2002). O’Donnell cites a 2004 article by Clancy Ratliff that explains that, by blogging, students create a learning community. As they interact with one another, they are actually synthesizing information, which we know is at the top of the learning pyramid (2006).
Why not capitalize on what the students are already doing and build on it with blogging? Have them take their class notes, learning logs, and such and turn them into a blog that will foster collaboration and communication. Many of the students I work with are very creative, so let’s give them a forum to express their innate sense of imagination and share it with their peers.