Using blogs to encourage students to write
November 30th, 2012 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna
Blogging tools gained popularity a while ago as simple-to-use tools to create websites with news and updates, journal entries or travel logs. Users set up an account, choose a theme and start blogging. They fill out a form to post a new story and with a simple click, the entries appear on the web page displayed in reverse chronological order. The entries are archived and, over time, create a collection of resources visitors can explore and comment on.
Among the most popular blogging platforms are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr, and literacy organizations started to embrace these platforms to develop their own websites and to provide platforms for students to tell their stories and share writing online.
Sioux Hudson Literacy Council started blogging a while ago and currently uses WordPress to manage its organizational website at www.goodlearninganywhere.com as well as to offer courses to introduce literacy students to blogging.
Explore The King’s Blog – An Introduction to Blogging and WordPress to learn more about Sioux Hudson’s experiences with blogs.
As Sioux Hudson point out, “Blogging is an opportunity for adult literacy organizations, across all streams, to find their voices and to share their learners’ stories and organizational successes. Blogging provides organizations with a medium to speak to learners, peers and funders.”
Using blogs to share students’ stories
In the past, literacy students would write their poems and stories on paper and share them with the class. Blogs allow students to take their writing and stories to a new level. Not only do they write and share their stories online, making them public and allowing others to see and comment on them, students also develop digital technology skills while doing it. They set up accounts, use visual editors to write their stories, insert images and/or videos and respond to comments.
Explore http://ourlearners.wordpress.com to read the student stories from Good Learning Anywhere. They are simply amazing!
Being able to publish their stories gives students a sense of pride and allows others to get a glimpse of their history, interests and personality. Many students are proud of their work and report feeling more recognized and happy because they have found a medium to write and share their stories with others. Some gain a lot of confidence and go on to develop their own blogs and publish their own poems.
Using blogs to teach tech skills
In today’s technologically advancing world, many literacy students are under pressure to develop and expand their tech skills. Although sometimes hesitant at first, they welcome the use of technology in their learning. Using blogs allows them to develop tech skills to create and add content online. These skills can be transferred to other activities, such as creating their own blogs and websites, exploring online learning and courses or being open to trying new technologies.
Recently, the students at the John Howard Society of Durham Region had a chance to participate in a project where they blogged with iPads. The students created posts, added pictures, and recorded videos and then posted them online on the Reflections blog.
This approach allowed them not only to share their stories and develop blogging skills, but also encouraged them to learn how to take pictures and videos, edit them and use iPads to post content online – a fantastic approach for developing their digital technology skills and breaking the fear barrier for those hesitant to use technology.
Explore http://jhsreflections.wordpress.com/ to see the students’ work.
Using blogs to share content with students
Many literacy practitioners and organizations use blogs to create class websites to share content with students. Blogs could be used to share:
- links to websites and resources
- class assignments, handouts and worksheets
- class notes and directions for completing tasks
- calendars and information about events
- students’ work (stories, assignments, videos, pictures, etc)
- class reminders
- contact information
- and more
Explore http://mathkarin.wordpress.com/ to see how a math instructor uses a class blog to share information and resources with students.
Whether you use blogs for or with students, we would love to hear from you. Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your blogging e
xperiences and stories with us.