Chances are, you started blogging but still felt like you didn't have anything worth sharing. Long time readers of this blog know that it used be called "Pathetic Attempt at Blogging," which Crystal, Karl and Andrew convinced me was no longer accurate once I had dozens of posts in only a few months.
I've also played around with student blogging over the past few years. My first attempt was for students to respond to classwork on blogs rather than on documents as short essays. They would write about the content, mostly. But most of it was so specific to my class that using blogs was style over substance. I also used a platform that made the blogs completely hidden from the world behind a password-protected group...which made the whole thing seem pretty pointless, both to me and my students.
Then I tried having students use them more like a journal. But without the kind of confidentiality you have with a paper notebook that can be fully in your control at all times, the blogs were watered down and mostly uninteresting.
Soon after, we tried having our students use blogs as the vehicle for our 20% time projects, and we had Andrew's students read my students' blogs and vice versa. That was cool in many ways, but the cross-country collaboration didn't work out as well as we hoped, and the blog wasn't the right format for many of the projects our students chose.
Then a year with no technology left me wondering if blogging even had a place in my classroom.
But I keep coming back to the idea because I KNEW there had to be a way to conquer the issues I'd faced before - lack of technology, blogs that were not sharable outside the classroom or that were too private to share publicly, or using a blog for something that could be better done in a different format.
And that's when it hit me.
And I think blogging could be that answer.
I assigned the first blog post today - a simple post about a situation in the book we're reading - Wednesday Wars. The protagonist is threatened by his classmates, who tell him that they will cause serious harm to his person if he doesn't supply them with cream puffs. I asked students to think about what THEY would do and present 2-3 realistic actions with the pros and cons to each.
But I don't want to make the same mistake I made before - I want this to go beyond just the literature we're reading and help them engage with the Big Issues in life. I want them to start to reason through the decisions they face. I want them to start thinking and feeling what other people from different walks of life might feel.
So we're going to blog about decision-making. We're going to blog about issues my students actually face - peer pressure, bullying, being left out, anxiety, dealing with family members, friendship drama, worry about grades, etc. We will do a mix of their own personal observations about the world and responses to the texts we're studying.
They will also have a chance to showcase some of the work they're most proud of.
My parents still have a box of my work from elementary school. I'd love for my students to not have that same thing. Rather than a giant box, they just have to remember their Blogger URL.
Maybe they'll even keep using it after my class.
So how do you blog? What's been effective for you and useful for your students? Please share - this is a new journey for me.