This semester, something has changed. But I'm not quite sure how or why.
My seniors have started blogging to reflect on their reading of a "banned book." They selected a book of their choice from the American Library Association's list of challenged books. We will spend the month of March digging into issues of censorship and reader's rights. My students are reading everything from Huckleberry Finn to Looking for Alaska, and although they have only just started their blogging adventures, I'm noticing a difference in the depth and the quality of their reflections.
Madeline just asked, "How should I cite this?" We've been talking about ensuring that we give credit to the original writers and artists. Students are including specific passages, evidence, images, and links to other news articles and writers.
So why is this blogging experience working out so much better than earlier years? I need to spend more time reflecting on this question, but my initial thought is that this time around I spent much less time instructing students how to set-up our blogs and much more time pointing out what good bloggers do. We looked at more examples than I had in year's past, and I started the first week by having my students comment on one another's first posts. In doing so, not only did they receive feedback on their writing, but they also had an opportunity to explore how their peers had designed their online spaces.
In short, I spent less time on instructions and more time on having students get hands-on with writing.
And here's how their looking so far. We would love your feedback on their blogs! Simply hover over the images below to access links to my students' blogs.