I can see it growing: Blogging and Writing

So, I’ve been reading a few things about blogging. And I’ve been reading a few things about writing. And I’ve been reading a few things about both blogging and writing, and I’m starting to think I’m missing something. Or need clarification, at the very least.

I’m going to keep this philosophical, much like my assessment post a while back.

First, a question:

If (text-based)1 blogging is a kind of writing, then aren’t all bloggers writers?

And now, the statements:

  1. I (foolishly, perhaps) believe that all my students can become good writers2 of some kind.
  2. I therefore believe that all my students should try their hand at blogging, just as I believe all my students should try writing poetry, maybe a short story, a personal narrative, an e-mail, and oodles of other writing types.
  3. I do not believe a great writing teacher needs to be a great writer; he / she simply needs to “know the ropes” and be great teacher, period.
  4. I therefore believe a great blogging teacher does not need to be a “master blogger”, but that he / she just needs to know how it works, and be a great teacher, period.

And finally, more questions:

  • Those of you out there who use blogs with your students, how do you use them?
  • Do you assess them? If so, how?
  • And if you don’t use blogs with your students, why not?

The background

I am changing (quite drastically) the way I use blogs with my students for the remainder of this school year, and next. And so, I’m looking for ideas and anecdotal feedback… errr.. feed-forward… from those who have walked this path before me. 🙂

1Of course, the visual-types of blogs aren’t really writing, but a different kind of communication

2I define the term “good writer” as one who creates “good writing.” And for the definition of “good writing,” I turn to one of my most influential mentors in both teaching and writing, Carl Leggo, who once stated, “Good writing gets the job done. It works.” I should also note that I have different definitions of “great writing” and other comparative terms.

Photo credits: You can almost see the grass grow by aussiegall; How to Grow a Blog by teachandlearn (licensed under CC 2.0 Generic)

7 thoughts on “I can see it growing: Blogging and Writing

  1. Hi
    Of course all bloggers are writers. Is there some disagreement on that fact? A writer communicates through words and unless a blog is just pictures, let’s say, then I assume that a blogger is a writer. Are they a good writer? Now, that question is subjective to the reader’s viewpoint.
    I like your reflective stance here and how you are wondering about the use of blogs in the classroom.
    I use a classroom blog for posting student writing and sharing out projects. I don’t have individual blogs for my students, who are 11 and 12 years old. I suppose our blog is more of an exploration and publication space than a true writing platform for my students. (our blog is here: http://epencil.edublogs.org/) Therefore, the assessment is often off-line.
    I do believe that teachers who teach writing should also be practicing the craft of writing themselves. I think this makes for a better teacher.
    Thanks for your reflections here.

  2. Hi again, Kevin!

    The Pew report that came out recently referred to students who blog, as… well, students who blog, rather than writers. Stating that all bloggers are writers assumes that those who blog are doing so because they want to, which many students *aren’t*. I think it also comes down to what your definition of a writer is. Some students can blog because a teacher has told them to, but that doesn’t mean that they are writers.

    I looked at your blog for your students — thanks! I am going to use it as a model when I use blogs with my 7th graders, many of whom have never read a blog. I want them to see what kids their own age are doing.

  3. Ok
    Good point on students who don’t want to blog/write, but are forced to us teachers.

    I did not quite interpret the Pew Report in the same light — it is true that students don’t perceive the tech in their lives as “writing” but that is just their perception from the world where they are right now. (That view might change when they are older and have time to reflect). I do think it is writing and that they are writing when they are using IM, blogs, Twitter, whatever.

    I wonder, are people writers only when they want to write? I’m not so sure.

    Thanks for engaging me in this conversation, though. You have me thinking.


  4. @Kevin – I understood you. 🙂

    I agree with you, that our students are writing even when they’re sending SMS, IMs, whatever. But I’m not sure that means they are writers. I am divided on this…. which is very much what your question implies. I’m not sure, but I think I am leaning towards and answer that sounds like, “people are writers only when they want to be. Otherwise it’s just writing for the sake of communicating, and not necessarily an expression of something dynamic.”

    … but that’s not definitive in my mind — yet. 🙂 Thanks to you too for getting me thinking. I feel like I need to come back to these ideas at a later date and address them again after they’ve simmered a bit, which is good.

  5. I don’t think anyone has settled on this question.
    I know, I haven’t.

    As a writing teacher for 11 and 12 year olds, my vision to have all of my students view themselves as “writers” throughout the year, so I do try to engage them with creativity. If they can come away with that perception and self-awareness that they are writers, with something important to say and the means to say it, then I figure it was a pretty decent year.

    For example, we are going to be publishing poems in book format via Lulu Publishing (first time, so figuring it out) and so many were very excited to think of themselves as published poets. That is excitement I would love to bottle and save for another day. But I imagine the experience of publishing will be carried with them.

    Take care

  6. Kevin, what a great idea to publish with Lulu. I have heard about this but haven’t explored it yet. I will be interested to hear how your experience goes!! Your students must be so excited. There is nothing more thrilling than seeing your writing in print. Perhaps that is what will separate the “real writers” from “those who write” — the ones who are excited to see their poetry published will probably be more apt to confidently declare, “I am a writer!”