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SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: Why choose this approach? I wanted to try out some creative prompts students could use to connect with their writing more personally.

FORMAT: 4 blogs, short in nature -- none longer than 4 paragraphs. Examples were a field trip reflection and a free blog. I used blogging as a chance to experiment with some new ways to engage students over and beyond the traditional writing experience.

PROCESS: Drafts of blogs were written online during class and submitted as paper copies (easier for me). I sent them back with feedback for editing. After revision, students moved their work to Kidblog, our blogging platform, for publication.

GRADING/FEEDBACK: Students received editing notes, my comments, and often comments from peers after their blogs were published. Each revised and posted blog counted as a quiz grade.

REFLECTION:
Before I began blogging with my students, I had some questions. Do kids proofread, revise, and edit more effectively on blogs compared to traditional, hard copy essays? What about student ownership? What about longer writing assignments and their role in blogging? Because I have a limited background in technology, this new arena was difficult. I found that short writings allowed me to read student work and approve it for publishing. I do need a management system to track students’ progress next year. When surveyed, students said they gained confidence as bloggers, learned to add more detail to their writing, and took their writing more seriously. They also demonstrated more effective revising and editing.


Next year, I hope to blog along with my students. I will keep blogs short. I will have students blog three times quarterly, being sure to give them one free choice blog per quarter. I look forward to another year of blogging with my students.


PROMPTS:


1. "Who am I?”
Please write three to four paragraphs telling your audience who you really are. We want to get to know you! Here are some questions which may help you: How long have you been at ‘Iolani? Describe your family, including your siblings. Where are you in the birth order? What academic courses do you like? Which ones are challenging? Outside of academics, what sports or activities are you involved on? You might include music, theater, clubs, etc…
Finally, what dreams do you have for the future?

2. “Best Advice”
Throughout our lives, we are all given advice. These words of wisdom may come from parents, teachers, coaches, or even our peers. In three to four paragraphs, write about the best or most useful piece of advice you have ever been given. Who did it come from and under what circumstances? How did you apply these wise words to your own life? Then, what advice have you given someone else? Do you think they took it?

3. “Field Trip Reflection”
You seventh graders took a day off from school last week! You signed up for a field trip that would expose you to something new, something you had no experience with. Write about your day. Did you get your first, second, or third choice? Where did you go and what was the focus or the trip? What was the best part of your day? What was your least favorite part? Would you recommend this trip be taken next year? What other field trips would you like to see offered next year. Feel free to be honest! If you did not enjoy your trip, tell why!

4. “Free Blog”
Here’s your chance! You may write about anything you like! Just make sure it is appropriate as your peers are reading you blog! Do you have a strong opinion of something? (for instance the dress code). Maybe you would like to write about an accomplishment in a sport. You could also blog about an activity you like doing on the weekends with your family. You may even write a poem! If so, write at least two stanzas and try including some of the poetic devices we have learned this year like similes and metaphors. Most importantly, pick a topic you really want to write about!