Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blogging as a Tool to Support Better Writing

I was inspired to address this topic after a comment from my daughter about posting on Instagram. She said, "Mom, why does it take you so long to write a post? It takes me 30 seconds to write something and post it!" Not by any means is this reflection written flawlessly, but I am mindful of what I am putting out to the world to read! Our students and children are writing (or posting) more often than we can keep up with through the unlimited social media outlets available to them. They post freely, many times unaware of how their writing skills represent them. Our job as educators and parents has evolved with this easy access to publishing work with no filter. Teaching students to edit and revise their posts before "publishing" is not a new concept but one that has become more complex and immediate. It is important that students find their voice and learn the fundamentals of writing, but the stakes seem to be higher with the reality of our digital footprint. Teachers and parents should look at this not as an obstacle but an opportunity to bring relevancy to writing with our young digital natives. Whether it is finding out how blogging can work for you in the classroom or encouraging your own child to journal their experiences and share with family, it is an outlet for writing we should model and encourage to support the world they live in.

Blogging has become a staple in many classrooms. The same rules and structure can apply to a well written blog post as an expository essay, making it a great alternative in the classroom. Students have the opportunity to chronicle their experiences, reflect on assignments, and create their own content that can be shared and critiqued by their peers. Teachers can connect with student anytime which facilitates learning everywhere. This is not to say traditional writing assignments are dead, but a new branch of writing exists and should be taught. With this in mind, why not lead students to proper writing through great blogging!

In my experience with classroom blogging, we used Edmodo to host chats over books, homework tutorials, pre-teach lessons, offer alternative assignments, support PBL through a flipped classroom, and encourage critical thinking and reflection. My students knew they had access to help and safe educational connectivity at anytime. We talked about proper on line etiquette and the importance of taking ownership of what they were posting. We redefined our classroom together and seamlessly connected 21st century skills with critical thinking and high Blooms lessons.

As a parent, I have encouraged my daughter Gracie to keep a blog of her summer activities. Three years ago she used Posterous (no longer available), to document her travels around the United States with my mother. She took pictures on the beach in Connecticut for the 4th, with a card-board cut out of Justin Beiber in Times Square, and waiting in lines for rides at Disney in Orlando to use in her posts. She included a full page reflection for every leg of her journey. I wasn't with her, but was able to follow her experiences and thoughts through the whole trip. encouraging her through the process opened up the conversation of not only what good writing should look like, but what is appropriate.

In closing, blogging is a tool that teachers and parents can use to encourage reflective writing, online etiquette, and proper writing structure. It brings relevancy to writing for our young digital natives. We should teach our students to share their experiences and thoughts in a way that displays them in a positive light. It may be the outlet for your child or student to become a passionate writer and reflective thinker!

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