Monday, September 21, 2015

Student Blog Develops Better Writers

Student blogs are not uncommon; having students interact with each other and with the world is a valuable learning experience. This blog project is unique in that it is a student-run class blog which spans the entire school year and incorporates multiple skills needed to be successful writers. Each class period manages their own blog, where students all contribute.

Project Driving Questions: 
  • How can we make blogs interesting and relevant? 
  • How can sustained, interactive writing, published over time improve author voice and style?
Goals for students during the project: 
  • Develop personal writing voice 
  • Grow as a writer 
  • Become more comfortable sharing writing 
  • Considering tone and purpose in writing 
  • Brainstorming, drafting, facilitating peer review and feedback 
  • Craft a professional and safe online presence 
The overall process:
Students choose one journalist whose work they will follow throughout the year to (1) become familiar with both current events and pop culture, and (2) analyze and assess author style and voice. For each post, students pick a current topic that their journalist wrote about. Students then qualify, refute, or defend their journalist’s stance on the issue, providing evidence from personal experiences or text-to-text/text-to-world connections. By engaging with an author’s existing work, students enter into a rhetorical dialogue, and by posting that dialogue on a blog, they invite others to participate in that conversation. 

In Ms. Lloyd's 8th period class, students created their STEM Journalism Review blog ( and have already begun posting and commenting. The topics about which students write include politics, economics, education, medical, race & culture, science, and technology. 

Kira, the Blog Master for 8th period, oversees all posts from other students. There are four blog teams, each with a team leader. Team leaders submit each blog post from their team members to Kira for evaluation and feedback. Once the post is approved by Kira, she sends the blog post to the teacher for final approval. After the posts have been published online, students go into the blog and comment on each other's blog posts. According to Kira, this process helps students develop their own writing style and helps them understand writing styles, grammar, and organize thoughts. 

For example, Garrett writes a response to an article by Frank Bruni, describing a new way of thinking about the value and effectiveness of the college experience. 

The blog is still in its beginning stages; as this is a year-long project, readers are encouraged to revisit the blog to watch it grow. 


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