I have had some teachers talking to me about blogging in the classroom lately. Their excitement is contagious! The thoughts and ideas flying around are phenomenal. It has really started me thinking about students blogging for class and the benefits that can come from it. I have compiled a list…here are my Top 10 Reasons Students should be blogging…
#10- It Gets Them Excited About Writing!
Many students get bored when they are writing. They get tired of putting their ideas on paper when they know the only one that will probably read it is their teacher. When students write for a blog, you are opening their writing up to the world! Anyone can read about their ideas and comment. Students in this day and age thrive on that. They want to know what others think of their ideas.
#9- They Get to Write for Themselves
Much of the writing done in schools today is very strict and centered around a specific topic. I am sure in many cases writing for their blog will be the same. You will be asking them to answer specific questions. Don’t fall into a rut where you never give them the freedom to write about whatever it is they want to write about. Give them some “free posts” where they can simply write. That is where you will really learn about the students in your class. When they get a chance to share what they want, their engagement goes through the roof. You will see it in their writing. Giving them freedom to express their thoughts can become a very powerful tool when used appropriately.
#8- Teachers and Parents Both Gain a Better Understanding of the Students
This goes right along with #9. Allowing them some freedom to express their thoughts will often times open a new world that neither you, nor the parents, knew existed. You know the students I am talking about. The ones who never talk AND the ones who act out. Many times it is because they are afraid to share their thoughts and feelings face to face or in front of an audience. This will give them another less intrusive avenue to share.
#7- Students Gain Experience Writing to/for an Audience
By altering the assignments, you can create mini-lessons with the students and enable them to first think, before they write, about who their target audience is. Are they writing to peers? Are they addressing adults? Are they trying to reach younger or older students? Change up your assignments to guide your students toward different audiences. Once a target audience is established, find people from that target audience to comment on the students’ posts. I am 41 years old and still feel rewarded when I get feedback on the blog or through social media that something I posted was good or helpful. Our students are no different.
#6- It Gives Students a Reason to Use Proper Grammar and Punctuation
Nobody wants to look like a fool. No matter how many times they tell you they don’t care, they do. Posting their work online so anybody can read it is self motivating for them to focus on grammar and punctuation. It gives them the exposure and experience they need to become better writers from a grammatical sense.
#5- It’s a Great Introduction to Cyber Safety and Etiquette
Cyber safety is an area I don’t believe many do a good job of teaching. It is a hard concept to incorporate without practice. You can repeat over and over that you should not share your personal information, such as full name and address, with others. This gives you a sheltered environment for them to practice in. You can control what is posted and what comments are made. It will create many teachable moments for you and your students.
Online etiquette is another area not hit on enough with our students. They have a hard time understanding that once you post, it is out there for everyone, forever. It cannot be removed from everywhere no matter how hard you try. It can follow you to college and through your career. Once again, by being able to control and approve all comments and posts, you are able to withhold something that could be damaging to a student and at the same time create a powerful teachable moment for them and the rest of the class.
#4- This is Great Practice for Giving Proper, Effective Feedback
This one piggy-backs on #5. Posting comments to blogs can be almost as educational as posting the blog itself. Engage students with real-life examples of effective feedback. Is what you are saying beneficial to the author? Is it hurtful? Is there a better way to express what you are really trying to say? Is it relevant? Is it appropriate? All of these questions must be answered before their feedback or comment can be posted.
#3- Writing About Something Shows a Much Greater Understanding
Multiple choice tests are garbage. Yeah…I said it. You are all thinking it! I was a great test taker when I was in school. I had the knack for being able to break down a question and come to the correct answer most times even if I had no idea what the original question was asking. Multiple choice tests did nothing for me.
Many students are the exact opposite. The thought of a test scares the snot out of them. Even if they know everything about a topic they freeze. Allowing students to explain through writing shows a much greater understanding than any multiple choice test. It enables students to truly show what they know.
#2- Blogs Fit into Any Subject
The blog concept can fit anywhere. There are topics in every subject that you could write a blog post about. Take on a person from history. Explain a science experiment and why you feel you ended up with the results you did. Become a geometric shape and write about your attributes. Write as if you were a character from a story you are reading. I am not saying you blog about everything, everyday. Pick and choose your spots…just don’t think it doesn’t fit the blog concept because “it’s a math assignment and you don’t write in math”.
And finally #1- Because I Said it’s a Good Idea!
OK…so I brainstormed my list first and then combined a few as I started writing. I still say #1 holds water. I have been blogging on this site now for over a year and a half. I can honestly say that this brings me as much joy as any other aspect of my profession. As I said earlier, it feels good to know I am helping others…even if it is just a few.
I’m Not Done with this Topic
In the next few weeks I will be writing additional posts to share ideas on how to get started blogging: what steps you should take, dos and don’ts, and I will share a few blogging sites that I feel will give you the best bang for the buck.