Why blog? (continued)

One blog post can change your life.

It’s true, and there are many ways in which this manifests itself:

  1. Your post goes viral on social media, and your readership skyrockets.

  2. The right person reads your post (even if it hasn’t gone viral yet). This can lead to many unplanned, but wonderful, opportunities.

  3. You discover something while organizing your thoughts for the post, and the blessing of new insight changes your perspective.

You’re bound to write that one “magical” post if you blog regularly. It could very well be waiting for you right now… the post just around the corner.

More on student blogging

Students write better when the audience is larger than the teacher. I truly came to realize this when students shared Google Documents with one another on their 1:1 devices. They had to proofread each others’ work and leave comments, and this motivated many of my students to put extra effort into their punctuation and grammar.

Blogging is the ultimate way for anyone to share thoughts. Students are empowered when they’re given a writing prompt and blogging platform on which to craft their ideas into words.

The problem is that when you’re writing on the internet, you’re writing to everyone. Over the years I’ve written for Rise and Converge, I’ve received hundreds if not thousands of spam messages that were blocked by WordPress–and possibly 15-20 comments that slipped through that I had to block. We have to protect out students physically and emotionally from many different threats that emerge from the internet. Specifically, when we open up our students to online criticism, we have to make sure they know how to handle it.

That’s why Kidblog is such a great tool for students who are in the 4th-8th grade range. The Kidblog interface for the control panel from which students write and comment is very similar to WordPress, so kids can get a true blogging experience. You must be signed in as a teacher, parent, or student to read the blogs, so there’s a lot of protection. Students can still read every post that’s written within their group or class, and teachers must approve every comment.

Kidblog is the perfect place to start young kids with blogging. They’re writing posts that are published on the internet, but it’s safe. Students learn good digital citizenship because the teacher has control over the platform, which has greatly helped me teach the kids how to interact productively online–especially when they comment on each other’s work.

So as it stand right now, I’d say that elementary to 8th grade students should use Kidblog, and 9th to 12th grade students may be given the responsibility of publishing somewhere like WordPress (based upon the school site’s professional opinion).

If you have any questions about students blogging, feel free to reach me on Twitter: @SJohnsonEDU

On Writing Well

If you want to sharpen your nonfiction writing skills, look no further than On Writing Well by Willian Zinsser. This book provides the reader with invaluable information to build a piece with simple, clear, and concise words.

Tidy thinking is greatly encouraged by tidy writing. The best writers create linearly, building one idea upon another. The words are vibrant and useful, and ambiguity is banished for hacks to pick up*. Deliberately choosing meaningful words when writing crosses over to effective speaking. One of my hopes for writing everyday is to become better at speaking with lucidity.

Here are some helpful hints from On Writing Well off the top of my head:

  1. Use “however”  at the beginning of a sentence, not the end.

  2. *Don’t worry about ending a sentence with a preposition; especially if doing so makes the writing sound less stilted.

  3. Use humor (something I’m really trying to get better at wielding).

  4. Build and maintain a personae.

  5. Edit and trim. Then edit and trim some more.

Becoming a better nonfiction writer helps in many areas of life. With all the emails, texts, blogs, tweets, and memos that are ubiquitous in our personal and work lives, developing good communication skills has never been more important.