I like the blog feature that comes with our class Ning. However, I don’t feel that I use the student blogs in a meaningful way. Yet. Previously my students have used their blogs to post written assignments, and I would pair them up & ask them to read & comment on each other’s work. I found that it would take me longer to read and give students meaningful feedback on their blogs than if they turned it in on paper or dropped the document into a network folder in school.
I wanted my students’ blogs to be a place where they could write, read and comment on things that were meaningful to them, but that didn’t really happen. They didn’t have an interest in writing about the topics that I suggested, and really didn’t care about commenting on each other’s work unless it was “for a grade”. I thought that I could use their blogs to connect with Spanish speaking students, but that virtual exchange has had its own set of issues. Sooo...
I’m thinking of how to make the writing and blogging meaningful. I’m in the brainstorming stage of a project I want to roll out second semester. I would like for each of my students to pick a topic of interest to them, and then I would like them to write short blog entries (8-10 sentences) about this topic on a weekly basis. I’ll probably try it out for 4-6 weeks, and evaluate the project at that time.
At this time I’m thinking I will assign “blog buddies” so that every blog has at least an audience of one or two students, but my hope is the kids that share a similar interest will visit each other’s blog. They will need to gloss new vocabulary words for their readers. I also will have them tag each entry by topic so that the posts can be easily found within the class Ning. I will give them class time to work on the draft, re-write and post to the blog. If they need to gather images or take photos, they will need to do that at home.
I will have to come up with a quick weekly check list to keep the grading manageable, and a very focused rubric to be used at the end of the project. I’m concerned that it may become overwhelming to grade, so the final grade will be an assessment of the overarching project rather than grading each individual blog post for each student on a weekly basis.
So far these are the topics I will suggest to my students: fashion/clothing, sports, movie, music or TV reviews, video game tips, easy craft how-to, food, humor posts like Dear Blank, Please Blank... I hope that once I show them some examples, they will also suggest their own topics. I think the key is to keep the posts short and encourage topics with vocabulary that is familiar to them or have high cognate usage.
Sara Conttrell wrote about how her students blog for homework , and she has some great suggestions. I know that her class size is different from mine, so not all that she does will be feasible for me, but the post is a good resource for anyone else who is interested in having their students blog.
I would love to hear from you if you have successfully done something like this in your class. Any suggestions are welcomed.