Teacher Experiments with Blogging to Improve Student Writing

We’ve heard it said over and again, that technology is not a magic bullet for education. But we’ve also heard it said that it makes good sense to analyze the effects of particular technologies and the contexts in which they have a positive impact. Recently on this blog, I posted a professor’s poor outcome in adding Twitter to her traditional college class, which used the tool for commenting on class and one another’s assignments. At the end of the term, students responded that they already have enough social media in their lives, that this public use of a personal medium was a bad fit, and that they would rather interact in person (since that was an option, given their brick-and-mortar classroom).

In this next piece, a teacher claims success in having used a blog in his class as a means of authentic writing (students chose their own topics and developed their own voices). He sees value in helping students to develop themselves as writers not just for school  but also for their lives outside of and beyond it, and so do I. The New Learning is not just about the integration of technology into education per se, but about experimenting with and leveraging educational technologies within a context of thoughtful practice to innovate learning outcomes.  Both of the experiments discussed in this blog, former and present, show such thoughtful practice. — Kelly Searsmith

by Julia Lawrence / Education Week / 23 July 2012  [For Brennan’s direct article in The Guardian’s teacher network blog, see here.]

It is to students’ advantage to become masters of two styles of writing, explains Michael Drennan in The Guardian — one style dense but dry, full of declarative sentences and most useful when writing an exam essay or finishing up a term paper; the other is more fluid, emotional, and expressive, to be used for communicating ideas to others. As an experiment, Drennan had his GCSSE and A-level students focus only on these two types of writing exclusively by taking sample tests when in class and writing blogs when at home.

A month into the experiment, Drennan’s students exceeded both his and their own expectations. The range of topics covered was immense: from local news to current affairs, to the most controversial issues of the day. Students used the blogging format to examine natural and man-made phenomena, analyze experimental data they sourced themselves and by their classmates. They engaged with each other by commenting on each other’s blogs and writing their own responses to posts written by their peers.

 To read more…

Image Source: Guardian article