What does student blogging actually do?
As a proponent of student blogging I am often asked what it does for my students. The thing is, it does quite a bit:
Provides them with a voice. Education cannot be done to students anymore, they have to have a voice since it is their lives it effects the most; blogging gives them that voice.
Gives them an authentic writing audience. The product doesn't end with teachers and their grades; it is out for the world to see and to continue to be developed.
Puts their place in the world in context. We think our students know how much in common they have with kids their age around the world, but they don't usually. Blogging with those kids and connecting through projects such as the Global Read Aloud Project brings the world in.
Increases their global knowledge. Again, when you connect with others through your work and words, friendships develop, as does a mutual interest in the lives of one another. This is the modern version of pen pals.
Instills them with tech savvy and confidence. Blogging teaches students yet another tool, one we use to showcase other tools we have played around with. They feel confident in their skills as bloggers and it carries into their overall tech approach.
Instills safety rules and measures to be taken while online. We drill safety all year and the kids know the lessons by heart. It’s a teacher’s job to teach them how to be safe and the best way to do that is to work with them in situations that could be unsafe if treated the wrong way.
Teaches them how to give constructive feedback. We comment on each other’s posts but they have to be constructive comments. Blogging is a natural extension of the peer edit.
Teaches them how to have a meaningful written dialogue. When students don't get comments on their posts, we often go back to see why not. Usually they realize it was not written in a manner that invited others to participate in their writing. Revision and reformulating follows.
Cements proofreading and spell check. We don't want the world to see us as poor spellers or grammatical buffoons.
Expands their geographical knowledge. We pushpin maps with the location of our connections. This sparks more questions, which lead to a deeper relationship between the students and those we connect with.
Furthers their empathy, as well as interest in others. Blogging should not be a solitary experience, but rather one that invites discussion. To have meaningful discussions one must care about others, which is shown through their questions.
Encourages them to view their own writing through a more critical lens. Because we have a portfolio of their writing from the beginning of the year, we can go back and see their development. Are they developing as a writer? What do they need to focus on? The stakes are raised because it is not just the teacher that sees their work.
Creates reflective students. Because students are given a mouthpiece to the world, I see them take more chances to reflect on themselves and their choices. It is remarkable to see a student reflect on what grades have taught them or what it means to be a student.
It creates opportunities for us to have fun.
Pernille Ripp is a 5th grade teacher in Middleton, Wisconsin, a proud techy geek, and honest to a fault. She is creator of the Global Read Aloud Project and a believer in all children. Follow her on Twitter @PernilleRipp or read more at www.pernilleripp.com where this article first appeared.