Getting students to blog

Posted: February 2, 2008 in blogging, SMiELT2008, student blogging

Another Bloglines gem… Chris makes a point that seems so obvious, I am embarrassed not to have figured it our for myself:

Which leads me to where I am now in my thinking. There are those kids — just like there are those teachers — who will take to the idea of writing to an unknown audience and seeing what happens. But hoping and wishing for the serendipitous moment makes for bad teacher planning, and over the long haul I think it won’t get the vast majority of our students publishing their voices to the world. If we want to see kids embrace the power of communication technologies like blogs and wikis and podcasts, we need to be good teacher-planners. We need to give them reasons to publish. We need to help them see their audience… whether it is using a blogging platform for and art classroom exhibition that other students will critique or bringing in a group of math majors from a college to work with our math students, kids need to understand why they should share their work with the world, and then — once they do — we allow for all the serendipitous moments that so many of us in the edu-blog world have benefitted from to occur.

I have tried to get students to blog, without much success. I always felt the problem was the assignments, but I wasn’t sure why or how.

Chris refers to the work of Darren Kuropatwa, who has his math students blog their classes on a daily basis and interact with mentors via blogs. He also assigns reflective blog posts as part of a test. (You need to listen to the end to hear this assignment.) Darren has been tremendously successful with blogging. I’m continually amazed.

When my students were able to blog, we did a daily scribe post. It was moderately successful. As a matter of fact, looking back over that blog, I think it wasn’t too bad. I had not remembered it being as good as it as. What we never got, though, was commenting. That is what I would like to do differently if I ever get a chance to blog with students again.

On our wiki the next year, I got more student writing. Unfortunately, I have lost access to the Moodle part of the class, so I can’t see their finished products any more, but they wrote on the wiki fairly well. Again, they had real tasks to complete, and that helped. I only had 2 students in each class that semester, so there isn’t as much writing as there might have been.

But back to Chris’ post… We definitely need to plan student blogging and wiki use. My other attempts at student blogging were not nearly as successful because the tasks weren’t appropriate. They were solitary activities that did not require interaction or really promote conversation at all. They were all things that could have been done with paper and pencil with exactly the same result. They did not create a group knowledge base or product.

If we want students to really “get” blogging, we first have to get them “really” blogging.

  1. Alicia Rey says:

    Great post to reflect on Blogging, Nancy.

    When you quoted Chris and point out the need to give students a reason for blogging I immediately felt identified: I put myself into a student role as a participant of SMiELT and I admit that the reason for my posting on (the blog I set up for the event) is my willingness to share thoughts and reflections with colleagues interested in similar things and from whom I learn a lot.
    I confess that I didn’t want to set up a new blog for this online conference as I already have my own. I’ve had it sin late 2005 I think and keeping it updated isn’t that easy. First because of time (which is really scarce during the academic term) and then because sometimes you feel you really don’t have any relevant issue to release / publish. That said, if it was hard for me to keep my blogger account alive, I really believed that it was too much to double the effort with a wordpress one. But here I am, enjoying the sharing of ideas and learning and learning and realizing about things I used to take for granted. So I am really feeling a reason for blogging. Still thinking, though, how to create a similar willingness to do Web 2.0 work with my kid and teen students (I rarely teach adults now). Anyway I’m sure something will come up.

    Relating to “commenting”, God Nancy what would my Social Media Citizen and ELT Blog be like without your participation! Commenting really helps keep blogs moving!- this is another hint I learnt through this conference.

    Enough for the moment. Will go on reading.

  2. […] Link to another SMiELT08 blog : “Getting students to blog” […]

  3. […] Lehmann (from Getting students to blog by Nancy […]

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