Modern ways of teaching writing – let’s write a blog!
It each quite a lot of groups of young working professionals who claim they never have time to learn and do their homework, especially writing. I supervise other teachers who, when running classes with young working professionals, claim their students never have time to learn and do their homework, especially writing. I go to meet the supervisors of the young working professionals who claim their workers never have time to learn and do their homework, especially writing, and who also say they themselves never have time to learn and do their homework, (surprise surprise) especially writing. Yet, in what position does this place me, a teacher who realizes the necessity of writing as an essential process which students must learn?
In the last decade, no skill in English has changed more than this one. How many of you still write letters, send postcards from holidays, or handwrite anything actually? We are more and more often using written (emails, memos, etc.) instead of face-to-face or phone communication, both in our native tongue and in English. Can we, therefore, allow the students not to write? Absolutely NOT. To that end, we have no choice but to rethink the ways in which we teach this so important skill and introduce means of improving its attractiveness and appeal. Students do not want to write? Maybe, what we expect of them is simply boring and unrelated to any real life that they know.
My idea is to create a classroom blog where students can post their writing – be it short reactions to something I post, homework assignments, or larger projects. On this site, students can help each other edit, revise, and comment on each other’s writing, hopefully creating excellent writers. Not only that, but with such a tool, students are able to create their learning process and truly come to own their education.
The most important thing that a blog does for a class, however, is that it creates a community among its members. This community, when created eff ectively, can be an incredibly trusting place where authentic student learning fl ourishes. Members post regular entries. These entries can be text, pictures, videos, audio, or other media, in any combination. The beautiful thing about blogs is that they are a very fl uid medium with which to create a community. Age of the students? Any – obviously, the student must be able to write. I have seen class blogs for students as young as 7, used for classroom updates which both parents and students can read. The classroom environment is an excellent source for any number of blogs. The one that I see most often is a teacher’s blog giving updates on class information. Homework is often posted daily, and news for parents is also readily available. This type of blog is very simple to create and maintain because only one user updates it regularly and there is little need for privacy of the student information.
The use that interests me most as a teacher is a blog as a forum for students’ writing projects. Because of the public nature of a blog, students can post their work for peer review by others in or outside their class. In order for the online community to fl ourish, appropriate comments to each other’s work are essential and knowing that the teacher will be reviewing and possibly grading should help students focus the purpose of their posts.
There are thousands of examples of classroom blogs on the Internet, but here are a few good ones that I have found: http://millersenglish10.blogspot.com/ on which assignments are posted and students complete the work all on the same page. It is an incredibly easy site to navigate, where the assignments and their due dates are clear. The site also has several useful links, such as one to the class wiki, vocabulary lists, and honors class material. Furthermore, the purpose of the blog is stated directly up front. Want to try yourselves?
First, click on www.blogger.com or www.edublogs.org – the site is free, intuitive, and user-friendly. A few tips for those of you who wish to start a blog themselves:
- Have a distinct purpose for your blog, and make it known to your students and their parents or guardians.
- Use a site that is easily edited, with little confusion.
- Ensure the privacy of your students and your classroom.
- Know how to use the technology properly, and demonstrate it to your students.
- Set clear guidelines and rules for student use, and make sure you enforce them. The students have to know the blog is an extension of the classroom and not a place for them to just network.
Above all, encourage creativity in your students and allow their personalities to come alive on sites they have constructed as a community of learners.