I mentioned before that a few years back I incorporated student blogging and created a series of lessons. I had blogging, commenting, and copyright use lessons, however I revisited those and found them to be stale. So this time around I searched for new material that I could utilize to spruce up those lessons.
There are so many experts on blogging, and I am SO GRATEFUL for them! My original inspiration was Sue Waters at the Edublogger. I tried her teacher blogging challenges and even connected with other blogs for a brief moment. I also frequently visited Silvia Tolisano at her cleverly named Langwitches blog and Vicki Davis at CoolCatTeacher. These ladies were my blogging “professors” and helped motivate me to get past my apprehension about writing for a public audience.
First steps: paper blogging
During my search I found a really fun intro lesson from the Langwitches blog. Here’s how it works:
- Students get their feet wet with blogging by first paper blogging.
- The students write a proper blog post on a piece of paper and then post it on the wall.
- Each of them are given a number of Post-its.
- They do a gallery walk and use their Post-Its to leave comments on each other’s “posts.”
I tried this with my students since they’ve been bogged down with reading Flowers for Algernon with my substitutes these past three days. They needed something to get them up and about and mix things up.
Also, if you’ve ever read Flowers for Algernon, you know that it’s written chronologically as a journal. What a great segue into blogging! There are so many rich topics for discussion with this text, and I would love to have them reflect through their blog posts.
Important questions to consider
That being said, I’m a little worried about the quality of work I’ll receive. I’m flabbergasted by the discrepancy between my students’ writing on paper and writing online. I think they depend too much on auto-correct, and they don’t pay attention to simple things like capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. However, when they write out their assignments, they magically remember all of those details.
So I’m in a strange place where I have to decide what’s important. Yes, they should always put forth their best work, especially in a public forum. However, do I want to stifle their creativity by constantly hounding them about mechanics? Or do I just want them to write freely? Are students allowed to bring light to their (lack of) mechanics when commenting on a post? Should blogging be a grade?
What do you think? What should be my focus for blogging?