Student Blogs: Learning to Write in Digital Spaces

Student blogging is not a project, but a process. We are continuously striving to refine, improve and re-evaluate.

As I am meeting with teachers individually, I can’t stress enough the importance of READING other blogs (professional, student, blogs about your hobby, blogs about other interests you have etc.). I am trying to filter and funnel quality blogs in education, their grade level and  areas of interest to them as I come across them, so they can build a quality RSS Reader. BUT.. we need their help in having a basic understanding of blogs, its pedagogical uses, as a platform of a new writing genre (digital writing) and how our blogfolios fit into your curriculum and the BIG PICTURE of LEARNING. The blogfolios are not a platform to use only for a particular subject, but should give evidence of learning for each student.

Andrea Hernandez and I  are  working on a “spiraling” blogging skills guide for each grade level in order to facilitate skill building connections from one year to the next.

Creating the platform and the username and password and teaching the kids to log in is the EASY part.

The focus needs to be in using the platform to guide students to :

  • GROW as writers
  • create QUALITY content
  • write with a GLOBAL audience in mind
  • learn the infrastructure and grammar of digital wriring
  • use the amplified possibilities that the digital platform offers to not only practice basic writing skills, but REDEFINE and TRANSFORM the writing process
  • NOT only TRANSLATE traditional writing (that can be done with a paper and pencil) to an online space
  • personalize their writing
  • create a hub for their own personal learning experience

By “translating”, I mean…

  • take a traditionally written five paragraph essay, type it and publish it on the blog
  • convert a research paper into digital text and publish without adding links for references, nor connections for further research possibilities.
  • take a linear writing process and try to make it fit into a multimedia, multi-dimensional writing platform

By “transforming”, I mean…being able to do something that was impossible to do before:

  • write for a global audience. Hundreds or thousands of people reading, learning from and possibly responding to student work.
  • linking to other resources, other writers, writing on different levels (foreground (author’s voice) and backchannel (linked content)
  • embedding of multimedia (images, audio, video, etc.)

While I understand that “translating” and  “substituting” (take a look at the SAMR model) analog, traditional tasks with online digital tasks is part of the process, it is only a step.

There has to be an understanding that the goal is to keeping moving, tweaking, growing, amplifying.

We are all pioneers in exploring:

  • What writing in digital spaces mean?
  • How do we use it for learning?
  • How do we prepare our students for the digital environments, that most likely will be the majority (if not only) platform that they will be working in and with.

In an effort to move forward with our student blogs, take a look at the following checklist for students to Take Another Look at Their Blog Posts.

This checklist below focuses on the “Quality of Writing”, with an emphasis on building community through links and conversations. I have follow up checklists in mind, that will address hyperlinked writing, multimedia writing, connected and collaborative writing.

Download the Checklist as a pdf file.