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Classroom blogs

June 23, 2010

In my first (and only) two years of teaching, I tried mightily to use a Writers’ Workshop format.  The only issue with this in a middle school non-block schedule is–you guessed it–time.  I found it much easier to do with my 6th grade self-contained class because we were able to work on it at different points in the day, and I could extend the time we spent on “Rising Writers” as I saw fit.  This year with my 5th graders on that traditional bell schedule, we simply didn’t have time for them to fully engage in the writing process.  Ever.

That first year, we created quite the end of year celebration, complete with hardcover books, fruit punch, fancy invitations, and about 45 non-student attendees.  This past year, my students lacked the computer and typing skills to fully type out any stories.  As a result of the lack of time and lack of know-how (and some other variables), my students were unable to take any pieces through the writing process.  Which meant no celebration.

The publishing step became more of the focus than the outcome.  Students spent months (yes, months) attempting to type and print their stories, feeling annoyed when our class couldn’t get into the computer lab, and experiencing frustration at their ineptitude in Microsoft Word.

I fully realize that there are too many issues outside of my control here.  I can’t help that there is only one computer in my classroom.  I can’t control that they have not had any previous computer training.  I can’t change our silly schedule.

I can control how we utilize the little time we have and how we publish our works.  The idea of using student blogs as a publishing platform has crossed my mind several times.  Yesterday, I watched the archived version of a webinar with Maine teachers Hattie DeRaps and Jake Bogar about classroom blogs (thanks to Tracey O. for the link).

Does anyone have advice about this platform for student publishing?  Has anyone tried it and succeeded?  Failed?  What issues should I know about and ponder before deciding whether or not to use this in my classroom?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    June 23, 2010 8:45 pm

    I dunno. Although I do “get to” writer’s workshop about 3 times a week. I haven’t found a super effective way to work on writing. I did work with Kindergarten and we only have to write 3 sentences but still. I empathize with this situation. I feel like there is just not enough time to teach writing like it should be taught. I guess my mom was right when she said, “no one ever taught you how to write well.” I understand now that it is a time and resource thing. 😦 I’ll keep you updated with any ideas I may have for this. Even though we teach VASTLY different grade levels there must be some overlap of ideas.

    • Ashley C. permalink*
      June 24, 2010 9:41 pm

      I really do think there could be some idea overlap here…what I and my students need is really a more “elementary” style of doing this. Just on a middle school schedule. The truth of the matter is that they are only 10 years old and not ready for middle school–but that’s a completely different debate!

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