I was having a problem convincing a class of Grade 12 students to use their class blogs for anything longer than a status update. They loved using the class blog. They were very happy dashing off a comment, reading and commenting on other students’ blogs. But every post they wrote read like a Facebook status update, and spelling, punctuation and grammar were treated with cavalier scorn!
I tried everything to get them to write more extended blog entries. we read real blogs, and appreciated their content. Students nodded sagely, but the moment they were let loose on their blogs, they reverted to what obviously felt natural to them – a short sound byte in 140 characters or less.
Eventually I decided that perhaps I would need to use a little reverse psychology. I set the class a challenge, which I billed as being very difficult indeed – to write some Flash Fiction
on their blog. They needed to tell a complete story in 100 words or less! Within ten minutes I knew my strategy had worked. On every screen in the classroom I could see that the length of the blog entry had blossomed into a paragraph rather than the usual sentence! It didn’t take long before the first hand went up. “Is 114 words OK?” For the very first time, the class blogs I had to read were of a length approaching what I wanted to see. The grammar and spelling improved too.
It was also the first time I had enjoyed reading their blogs. And this enjoyment was obviously shared by the other members of the class, and they left very encouraging comments on each others’ blogs.
Using a class Blog site, such as http://kidblog.org provides a key advantage in that it easily facilitates peer-to-peer reading/writing opportunities, something which is very difficult to achieve with paper-based writing. “Swop scripts” isn’t as sexy as “read each others’ blogs!”