This is the first year I have asked my ninth graders to blog. I have read and supported the idea for years, I just never felt like the technology infrastructure was quite ready for it. In the past we did shared Google Documents and occasionally posted to online sites such as figment.com, but our efforts never really hit a stride.
My experience after three weeks is complete satisfaction. Even though we tried to publish student work in the past, the idea of dedicating a web page to their own interests appealed to even my most reluctant writers. I tried not to lead them too much, and since I wasn’t really sure what I expected, it came together in a very authentic, organic way. Some of the more interesting “themes” of the student blogs (many of these from struggling writers):
- Projects the student works on in his uncle’s auto shop
- Inspirational quotes
- Motorsports reviews
- Several (I’m not kidding) book review blogs
- The best sports events of all time
- Harry Potter fan fiction (her own)
- Classic movies
- The life of a livestock showman
- Fashion and accessory tips
Once they understood that it was like their own magazine or weekly column in the paper, they were off to the races. We began asking for one polished post per week, but over half are posting on their own multiple times already. It seems that by not making a list of demands (length, style, due dates) that they are doing it more or less for the fun of it. At least, so far it’s been fun to watch. If you haven’t tried it with your student, I wholeheartedly suggest it. If you are concerned about security, try kidblog.org (what we are using), or edublogs. Blogger by Google is another viable option.