Being in a 1 to 1 environment has enabled me to explore new ways of teaching and helping students to model methods of good writing. I have struggled every year to engage the students with the beauty of writing by attempting to show how powerful effective writing can be, but also how engrossing it can be to evoke emotions from others via their own, personal contributions.
Every Friday, my Juniors and my Freshmen participate in “Get Your Blog on Friday” on our class blog. I use the word “our” because ownership of the blog by the students is vital to its success and the success of learning for the students. I show the students a video prompt as a starting point for their own posts. The students then post (an original piece of writing) and comment (responding to another student’s post). The experience has been truly a pathway of growth and revelation for me as a teacher, and for the students, it has become a way for them to have a voice in the world.
Last week, I implored my students to break out of the boring, “cookie cutter” way of writing that has been drummed into their heads very often by the same teachers who are asking for creativity. While it is important to understand good methodology in terms of writing, I have seen students’ trepidation about doing it (writing) wrong, and therefore, they tend to write “small.” They often find it difficult to share themselves with their audience, and they are often lost when it comes to evoking emotion via their words.
One student was having issues trying to get started on his blog post. “Mrs. Allen, I heard want you want us to do, but I’m still confused about how to respond to the video prompt.” I told him to go to the first page of our blog and gave him the names of three students whose posts were not only well written, but revealed something special in terms of the person who wrote them. He read the three posts, and looked up at me with watery eyes, and said, “I get it.” I have to admit that I was moved by his reaction. He was then able to write his finest blog post since we started blogging in October because he modeled good examples from his fellow classmates.
Student blogging is about reaching out to the world and reaching back to your past. Student blogging is about learning about your classmates and learning about yourself. Student blogging is about revelation, collaboration, and the power of teenagers and their voices in the writing universe.