10 Reasons Why Students Should Blog
Hands down, student blogging has been one of the best exercises I've assigned to my students. Blogs
allow you to implement several best practices in teaching. I used WIX this year, but there are other great platforms that are free: Edublogs and Blogger, to name two others. Here are ten reasons you should try this exercise in your classroom.
1. Students have choice: Unless they are stumped, I don't assign specific topics for blog posts. Students choose an area they're interested in and stick with that theme all year.
2. Students participate in "deep learning": Students spend an entire year, once a week, writing about a subject they love.
3.Students' intrinsic motivation increases: When they know it's their own creation, students take pride in their blog. They want an audience. They want their work to be impressive, even if only their peers and family see it.
4. Students connect their writing with other classes: Love science and wish you never had to take an English course? I get it. Now you can, for at least 20% of your English work week, write about science. I get what I want for you: writing practice. You get what you want: more science time.
5. Students reflect on their learning: Blogging is a platform for student reflection. Sometimes we reflect on our writing process, sometimes we reflect on how we research our subject. Reflection is key to the learning process.
6. Students and teachers write together: Blogging offers teachers an opportunity to write with their students. I'm doing it right now, actually. Write for ten minutes, rotate around the room and see who needs help. Easy enough, and it gives me a chance to role model the expectations I have for my students.
7. Students begin to find their voice: After writing for a year on one subject (and, of course, I allow students to pivot when they exhaust or just get tired of a subject.), you begin to write in a voice that's more your own. I often observe, with frustration, students changing their voices depending on the assignment. That's my fault for not creating assignments where they feel comfortable having a voice. Blogging avoids that.
8. Students connect to others who are interested in their subjects: One thing I didn't do a good job with this year (among several other things!) is pushing kids to find and follow and learn from experts in their subject area who also blog. Not only experts, but hashtag groups, podcasters, etc. who address their interests.
9. Students build a positive digital footprint: We talk about this issue all of the time. How do we get students to understand the impact their digital footprint can have on them? Well, if posting something inappropriate online can get you into deep trouble, maybe posting something positive online can help you? In the world of college admissions, I have to believe that seeing a student's blog that is consistent, well-written, and focused is a good thing. That being said, you can always limit who sees these blogs (classroom, parents, anyone with the proper code).
10. Students will likely use this platform in the future: Let's face it, most students won't be writing critical essays for a scholarly journal. Some will, but most won't. I'll bet, though, many students will use a blog in the future to market, amplify, and reflect on their work. Either way, they still need to learn writing skills.
I keep this info-graphic by George Couros posted on my classroom corkboard. Blogging with students hits nearly every one of these characteristics.
George Couros is the educational leader who got me to start blogging with students. I am indebted to him for pushing me as a teacher. His challenge has definitely paid off!