Blogging in the New Year: Bring on the Creepers!

Today, my class’s blog had a creeper, which is code for comments from people that we don’t know.  Sure, 8th graders think it is a bit creepy that people are reading their writing and then commenting on it, but I also think they get kind of pumped when their individual blog post is “creeped on.”  I know this by how many views said blog post received once I emailed the class to let them know.

All our Creepers!
All our Creepers!

I have used blogs in my classroom in some shape or form for six years now, starting off by posting myself and having kids respond.  That never seemed quite right, however, as I really wanted my classroom blog to be writing that my students had done. Last year, I finally got my classroom blog to be exactly what I wanted it to be – a group endeavor that students can post to on their own.  Students are required to post a certain amount of times per month, but can choose what they post and write about.  Our blog is public, which allows us to receive hits from all over the world and covers topics ranging from politics to entertainment to fantasy writing. Our most exciting moment came when a student book review received a comment from the actual author.  This definitely did not fit the category of creepy and was what every English teacher hopes will happen on their blog.  Yeah, we got lucky!

Blogging is definitely not cutting edge anymore, and something I believe should be part of every curriculum in some shape or form.  If our aim as teachers is to prepare our students for the real world, then we have to give them opportunities to write in the ways that countless people write.  Plus, blogging is a way to allow students to express themselves creatively, try writing about something they might not normally, and express their voice in ways that literary analysis writing cannot.

If you have yet to try blogging, here’s a few reasons why I think you should:

1.) It truly is an authentic audience.  The blogger that received today’s comment had written about her opinion regarding China/US relations.  The commenter will force her to think about her position differently, as he did not agree with her.  We all know that our voice as teachers only goes so far with students, but the voice of a stranger who challenges you to think differently about a belief is something that can be truly influential and a great learning experience.  People read blogs and kids will learn that having people read your ideas is powerful and thrilling at the same time.

2.) It invigorates students. No, I will not tell you that every one of my students absolutely loves blogging.  But, at the same time, I don’t think many of them absolutely hate it.  And for many, it is exactly the kind of thing they need to invigorate their educational experience.  It provides many students with a chance to write about things that matter to them, to play with technology, and to share their ideas with their classmates and the world.  Their writing improves and since I don’t grade individual posts, they become less burdened with grade requirements and write more for the joy of it.  You know something works when students email asking if they can write a blog post over break.  Playing around with blog statistics and celebrating feats is also motivating in ways that writing a paper just for a teacher can never be.

3.) It will invigorate you! I’ll admit it – I’m a bit addicted to checking blog stats on my class blog.  And it really is exciting when students receive comments or their posts get re-tweeted.  But what is most appealing about blogging is to see what it can do for your students.  As I said before, blogging can energize students to reach the potential they might not otherwise.  It excites them and allows them to become passionate about learning and writing, something as an English teacher is what I want for my students.  The growth my students have had because of blogging has been immense and that has been one of the best benefits this experience has had on me.

I truly believe in the power of blogging and know that it has been rewarding in my 8th grade classroom.  I look forward to a new year where my class will try out some new things on the blog to grow further.  Hopefully, we’ll get a few more “creepers.”

Here’s the link to our class blog: waeng8.wordpress.com