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What is a blended approach to blogging as writing? This teaching strategy marries the freedom of encouraging students to write about their own interests and passions with more established forms of writing within a given curriculum. You can access my blogging classroom here.

FORMAT: Alternating primarily traditional assignments with free posts. Assignments included an “About Me” post, a persuasive piece, an infographic/book trailer, and a review (selections for “Bloggy Awards”).

PROCESS: Students submitted drafts digitally, then revised and moved them to the blogging platform, adding links, tags, and images. Some students met with me one-on-one to make corrections before publication. For the first semester, I approved blogs before publication; for the second semester, students could post without approval. All comments were reviewed before publication.

GRADING: In “rounds” of two blog posts plus at least two comments. An unlimited number of comments could receive credit based on their depth and detail. Each “round” counted as a test/essay grade.

REFLECTION:
After blogging with students for nearly a decade and teaching writing for three, I was thrilled to join new colleagues to integrate blogging within our 7th-grade English curriculum. As we experimented with three approaches, mine balanced “free posts” and teaching of blogging techniques with an equal number of traditional writing assignments. My goal was to have students see writing and blogging as one and the same. A year in, my students reported notable gains: feeling empowered to own their own thoughts, regaining their sense of voice through interactions with an authentic audience, taking more care with details and editing, thinking more deeply and explaining more carefully. Writing mattered to them as they experienced the joy of sharing their ideas with the world. Further, they articulated meaningfully in metacognitive reflections about their learning. This is what teaching blogging as writing can do.

CURRICULUM:
Blog Post #1: "About Me" (personal narrative)

Your first blog post will be an "About Me" post and do something like I’ve done here. You should introduce yourself as a writer and a blogger. How do you see yourself as a writer? What were the key events that have affected your growth as a writer and that brought you to this point of expressing yourself to a larger audience through blogging? Introduce your blog: What are your interests, and how do you plan to share them in your future posts? What do you want to learn and explore in your writing this year?

Remember that you are writing for a larger audience, and your writing should be at its best, but it should also sound like you. This is a school blog, so you will need to keep that in mind too. Always address your audience and fellow bloggers respectfully, using correct grammar and mechanics, to represent your best writing self. Don’t let that stop you from exploring language and being creative, however!

Write your draft as a Google Doc in your Classroom folder on Drive. You will submit it to me for feedback, and you can use share it with others to solicit their feedback as well. Turn in your draft post to Google Classroom. Once you've been approved to post in Kidblog, I’ll show you how to add tags (your name and this assignment at least) and a photo or image. I will also show you how to add links if you are ready!

The original image or photo you choose should engage your reader visually, so choose your image wisely. Feel free to use your original image from your earlier assignment about doing what you love, especially if your passion will find its way into your blog posts. Or you may wish to compose an image that conveys how you think of yourself as a writer. Or you may have another creative idea for an original image that represents what you are trying to convey — if so, go for it!

Once everyone has posted successfully and your blogs have been reviewed and approved, I’ll teach you about writing comments — because that is part of blogging too.


Blog Post #2: Free Post
A free post can be on a topic of your choice (appropriate for a school audience, of course). Share what you are passionate about. Investigate something that has piqued your curiosity. Respond to current events, something you've read, or an event you've experienced. Teach us based on your expertise. Offer up a helping of your personal philosophy of life or good advice for living. It's up to you. Just make it the best writing it can be.

Blog Post #3: Persuasion
Blog Post #4: Free "Inspired" Post (response to another student's blog)
Blog Post #5: Survivor (infographic/book teaser, informational)
Blog Post #6: Free Post
Blog Post #7: Free Post
Blog Post #8: "Bloggy Awards" (evaluation, opinion)