One of the more useful educational tools on the Web, especially for teachers of language arts, is the blog. As a platform for authentic communication, the blog offers students a relatively simple and convenient way to express their thoughts, archive those thoughts for the future, and, if desired, converse with others over issues that matter to them.
Though access to computers is difficult in my school, I’ve been able to reserve the library’s computers for my Communications 11 class. I asked my students to create a personal blog using the free services from Edublog or Blogger, and we talked about Internet safety rules regarding names and comments. (Naturally, many students chose to use their full names and allow comments!)
For their first entry, I asked my students to think about what kind of changes to public education they’d like to see. Students typed out their responses and they peer edited each others’ work. I occasionally helped with this editing process, but I wanted them to take on most of the responsibility for this activity.
The students in this class are reluctant readers and writers, and not a single one has ever created a blog. Nevertheless, they all took to the assignment with gusto, and created their blogs and first entry with remarkable enthusiasm.
The following are a few representative entries, representing a range of students in terms of interests, backgrounds and technical ability: