"I don't like to write." That's the refrain teachers have heard for a generation when they ask students why they're struggling to complete a short, three-paragraph essay. Thankfully, more and more educators are using two things kids love, technology and social media, to change that. By encouraging students to write on their own blogs, savvy teachers are helping kids take their writing out of the classroom vacuum, and cultivate a broader audience.
Minnesota teacher Lisa Christens told Twincities.com that her third graders have fans as far away as Nottingham, England. Her students can post about what they're working on in class as well as more personal material. The desire for reader feedback keeps the students excited about wanting to write more posts, and they're eager to improve their writing skills for their readers' benefit. "They now have a worldwide forum instead of an audience of one," Christens said, noting that the students "see themselves as writers—real writers."
High school teacher Joel Rogness lets students in his honors world language class blog as their literary heroes. Instead of making them write essays about the themes of The Catcher in the Rye, Rogness' students can pretend to be Holden Caulfield writing a blog post, and then get feedback via comments from their peers around the world.
Concerns about online privacy have historically made teachers wary of allowing students to blog, but the rise of platforms built specifically for students has made blogging safer for kids of all ages. Plus, in our networked 21st century world, more teachers are already taking precautions by talking about internet safety, telling kids not to reveal their home addresses or engage in online bullying. Let's hope more teachers embrace the medium and let their students get some real-world writing experience.