Free posts are the heart of student engagement with their writing as they blog. Students discover themselves as writers and thinkers, and they discover one another. Suddenly they begin to care about the quality of their writing and their affect on an audience. As they comment on one another's posts, they provide support, ask questions to go deeper, and build community.

When integrating blogging into an established writing curriculum, the teacher should look for opportunities to give students room to write freely -- but also can hold them to high standards expected of any publication (which they will want to do anyhow). Where are the places in your curriculum where you can use your prerogative as a teacher to give students more freedom to explore their passions in writing? Can you use daily writing prompts? Can you broaden the scope of writing assignments to address the craft and process of writing in various forms -- without telling students what to write about?

Later, you may want to goose students' "free post" writing by giving them challenges. Ask them to try a different form of writing, for instance. Or you might have them respond to another student's post in some way (thus, encouraging community and cross-pollination). Suggest students explore a new tool or medium for engaging readers.

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From Madison's post, "You're Not Invisible," created with Recite.

Of course, sometimes too much choice can be paralyzing rather than empowering. This is where you can crowd source with your students for possible ideas. Keep everything in their hands if you can!