Thursday, February 25, 2010

Student Blogs. It's time that every school has a system!

Why should I write when nobody is reading?  Knowing somebody is reading my writing motivates me.  Wouldn't it be the same for students?  Authentic audiences make sense. 

Both Twitter and Blogger have become my favorite writing tools.  They have given me an authentic relative audience.  I would love to see students have their own blog page, where they can post poems, stories, or just write about the favorite baseball team.  Every school should put together a blog system.  It just makes sense that every student have a space to write,  a digital showcase of thoughts, poems, articles, stories, etc.  Showcase what students have done, let people comment, give feed back, and explore topics.  If all the poems, stories and papers I wrote been saved,  stored digitally for me to review, reuse and update I would love it. If your school has such a program I would love to hear about it.

A year ago I started a ning for my school.  If you don't know what a ning is it's like facebook but for a group of people that you invite or a topic that you decide.   It started as a computer projects that allowed students to understand the good and bad of social media in a safe environment.  What I realized is that students now have their own page where they can place pictures, videos blogs, and journals.  Soon students were posting their own poems and stories.  They were talking about the books that they read.  It's fantastic.  Students can comment on the work of others, share their stories and enhance learning through this tool.

I found two unexpected outcomes came out of the assignment.  One, students writing improved, because the knew that their stories were getting read.  Second,  the discussion and comments enhanced learning.  By "practicing" writing skills will grow. Students will become better writers and creative thinkers.   

So here's the plan:

1) Have your school make a place where students can write and post all there work.

2) Make these blogs open to student and public comment so that the end results will students will become better writers.  Student Blogs.  It's time.  Does your school have a system?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twitter: A Little R & W (Read & Writing)

English teachers love to improve writing.   Every day they teach techniques and find best practices, finding those methods that engage the students has been their passion.  I recall my 8th grade English teacher using prompts to promote writing. "Who it your favorite teacher, write a paragraph why?"  "Write 2 paragraphs about President Reagan."  While I wrote, I hated writing.  I didn't appreciated the topics and and it made this time "hellish".  The only people that ever read my writing was my teacher, and I'm not sure she looked at all of them either.

Recently I read this tweet from @tomwhitby re-tweeting @cwebtech.

Micro Blog = Prompt.  Hmmm!  I paused and reflected. Yes, I have done more writing and commenting in the last year that ever before in my life.  Why?  I am prompted to do so by others with the same interest that I do. I even started to blog, putting my thoughts and visions into words in an electronic web log format (blog).

Do you want to get your students to write more?  Have them sign up for a twitter account.  Search keywords and have them follow people with the same passion.  Soon they will be prompted to write.  They will be doing a lot of R and W (Reading and  Writing) Then have them expand those thoughts as they create there own personal blogs in blogger or edublogs.  How about partnering with another school, maybe outside your state and country.  Students can read the partner schools blogs and have them share their thoughts?  Let the conversation begin. Let the writing expand!

Yes, twitter and blogs are powerful collaboration tools that can engage a student in learning.  It makes writing relevant and also creates an audience for students to write to.  Go on get those students writing by having them enter in the conversation.