So, when looking over the CSCOPE curriculum during the summer, I kept coming back to the exemplar lessons for the first weeks of school. I was to spend at least 3 days teaching students how to keep separate notebooks: 1) reader’s notebook 2) writer’s notebook 3) Vocabulary notebook. I tried this last year and I completely understand the philosophy behind it all but wasn’t seeing any improvement from my students in their writing or reading. In fact, students spent a majority of the time complaining that their hands hurt. I realized that a majority of “writing” that we do every day involves short text messages, typing on a computer, or swiping on an iPad. Any handwriting we do amounts short notes or signatures. I thought about all the writing I do on my own. I cannot sit and write a story by hand in a notebook anymore. I used to fill notebook after notebook of poems and stories when I was in high school, now I’ve become just like my students: plugged in.
I decided this year to replace reader/writer notebooks with blogging. We use a website called kidbog because it allows for private blogging. Students can read each other’s blogs and provide feedback, but their blogs are not visible to outsiders (unless we make them public). This has been a very positive thing for me. Students do their “quick writes” on their blogs and then expand quick writes into longer blog essays. I see a lot more improvement in their writing because their blogs are visible to others. They are also able to save drafts and revise before posting–allowing them more time to think about what they want to post. Blogs have a more “Diary” feel to them as they can decorate the layout and make the blog their own. It also means students are thinking about content and not about how cramped their hands are after 5 minutes of writing. The only down side to blogging is that students can easily overwrite a post, which means I don’t have evidence of several drafts. Still working out a way around this (having them copy and paste drafts into google docs?)
What are your thoughts about students blogging?