We’ve been blogging for a while now; we’ve had ups and downs, but overall really enjoyed the journey. The interaction with like-minded people, the trolls, the constructive feedback, and the friends, it has all been a blast. We wanted our students to experience a similar thrill, minus the trolls, so we set about setting up a blog for them.
Our idea was to set up a blog that would be a place for students to publish their classroom writing. The thought process was that our students are not relating to the writing topics we are told to teach them, and that there is no end product or goal for them; they write then they stop (more or less).
So we created a WordPress account for our classes to use and we asked them if they wanted to publish their work on it for the world to see. At first they were nervous about showing the world their writing, but over time they got more into it and became active classroom bloggers. In their spare time they would read other students’ work, comment, and discuss it.
It didn’t work for everyone, and some students didn’t see the point, but for others, knowing that it would be read by people and commented on by students, opened up and wrote very interesting blogs. It works well for free writing tasks and also for more controlled writing practice, and at the moment there are over 50 posts from many different students of all levels.
The benefits for us have been that we can look at students’ work, and go through it with them, correcting it and offering feedback, while higher level students (our C2s) can do the same and offer useful feedback in the comments as well. Another success is that the students feel like their writing has a purpose, and if it is not a blog or suitable online writing task being done in the lesson then you can still post it, and get feedback from other students or the wider community.
The drawbacks are obviously there: it takes time out of your day, commenting and correcting work, but so do all writing tasks, and of course some students don’t want the world to see their writing, and that is perfectly understandable, although, we have found that it builds confidence, and gives a sense of responsibility to the writing.
Trying to make writing interesting in the classroom might not be an issue for you, but setting up a classroom blog has helped us to give our students more writing autonomy and confidence, and we both highly recommend setting up a classroom blog for you and your students.