We love seeing our students publishing their writing to the world on Kidblog.org or Edublogs.org. Teachers feel accomplished when their kids are excited about writing. What’s more motivating than having new and interesting people read what you have written? I am excited even now as I write this post imaging who will take the time to read what I have written. I am even more intrigued by who will take the time to leave me a comment. Blogging is motivating for students, its that simple.
What if we used student blogging as a revision tool instead of just a publishing tool?
Teaching students the power of revision can make a good writer great. What if you did a few writing lessons where the goal was to publish three times for one piece instead of publish and move on? What would that look like in a classroom?
I think it would look like a version of Austin’s Butterfly, except in writing. Imagine it… Partner your class up with another class to form peer editors between students for a few weeks. Set publishing dates loosely so students know when to look for their partner’s posts. Next, teach your students how to leave positive and constructive comments. You could focus your writing mini lessons around traits of writing so that students are looking for those elements as they read their partner’s posts. Teach your students to always leave 2 positive remarks about the post and then add one helpful critique.
This does two things, it keeps the comments positive and provides explicit ideas for how the piece could be better. Providing students the opportunity to focus on one piece of writing over a longer period of time, an authentic audience of peers, and providing specific feedback can be a powerful tool to improve writing skills and techniques. Furthermore, your students would have three digital pieces of writing to reflect upon for self-analysis. Self-analysis is a great extension opportunity for every student.
Here are some ideas that comments could center around:
- Add more details to paint a picture with your words.
- Set the stage early in your post.
- Hook the reader with a question, sound effect, or emotion.
- Include an image that ties to the theme of your post.
- Elaborate on your ending.
I challenge you to take your student blogging to the next level. Blogging shouldn’t always be quick and easy for students. It should allow students the opportunity to spend time improving their writing, by focusing on conventions, voice, art, emotion, and purpose. Our pacing guides can be overwhelmingly fast. I believe the best teachers know when to slow down and provide opportunities for students to delve deeper into a project.
I personally love the Lucy Calkins method of teaching writing as it incorporates effective writing techniques through the use of high quality literature. You can check out her methods from Columbia University here.
What's your favorite method for blogging with students? How do you see revision helping young writers? Please leave your thoughts below.
Written by, Jenny Krzystowczyk