A couple of years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I began introducing blogging to the classroom as a weekly activity. At the suggestion of my administrator, I made some modifications for safety purposes; they would not be published on the Internet, because of the horror stories that we had read and heard about. We began a weekly blogging exercise in the classroom, rather in the computer center. Students were required to write at least three good, strong paragraphs on what they had learned and retained in the classroom that week. It could have been a new concept, reinforcement of something they had already known, or something they had a little bit of knowledge and some lesson opened their understanding.
I set a few ground rules:
1. No foul language, which would result in a ‘F’ for the assignment;
2. Spelling and grammar were part of the assignment (there’s an old myth among students that since it is a social studies class, they should not have to spell correctly. They get the ‘over the glasses’ stare on that one;)
3. The blogs could not be used to slam anyone on campus, or in the community.
The students began to really look forward to it every week. (We missed one or two weeks because of scheduling of special events on campus.) I saw an improvement in writing skills over the 16 weeks that we did it nearly every week. The weeks we didn’t do it, kids were disappointed.
Though it was not part of my intent, it became an ego boost when students wrote something about how much they enjoyed the class and this assignment.
Since they were short, I was able to grade them virtually on the spot and hand them back the next Monday after recording them.
The last week’s blog wrapped up the entire year and what they had learned. I did get some amazing writing, which really knocked me off my chair.
One of the keys to the success of this weekly project: I got the backing of my administrator as an innovative approach not only to writing, but the basics of English. (During the course of the semester, my administrator asked me how the project was going and only once did I have to tell her that the kids were getting a little bored with it. It picked up again a few weeks later.) I plan to use it again.