Teachers Teaching Teachers #52 – How do I work blogging into my daily curriculum?


Bud Hunt asks the question like this: “How do I work Youth Voices [a school-based social network of 1000 student bloggers] into my daily curriculum? How do I use it either to replace existing writing or to support the writing instruction that I want to do?”

Like many of us, Bud is convinced that he has the tools he needs (Elgg is just one example.) to bring blogging and social networking into into the center of his writing, reading and research curricula. Teachers like Bud have learned that students who are asked to blog weekly (or thereabouts) about issues and topics of their own choosing achieve and go beyond the goals we have for them when we teach writing in more traditional ways. (If you’re not yet one of the “convinced,” please take a look at our students work on Youth Voices.Perhaps you’ll find evidence that supports our convictions. Also checkout what the students themselves say when they write in our “How am I doing?” community blog.)

The problem is, how do we make it work? Although each teacher has a unique situation, many of us face constraints that are similar to the ones Bud points to when he asks, “How do I fit Elgg into my language arts curriculum? More specifically, how do I do so in neat, nine-week chunks? (My courses are all on the quarter system.)”

Bud sums up with these kind words: “I love, love, love what y’all are doing with YouthVoices. I want my students to be involved in a strong writing community — I just don’t know how to practically do so. ”

Many teachers find themselves, like Bud, on the brink of using student-centered (because the topics come from each individual student) blogging. And perhaps it’s not too bold for those of us who have been involved in creating Youth Voices–a community of practice for high school bloggers–to say that we can show that this kind of blogging both engages students and helps them to reach toward higher and higher standards of writing and multimedia communication. We are ready to encourage those of you on the edge to find ways to solve your very real logistical problems. It’s worth it.

In their book Remediation: Understanding New Media(1999), Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin explained how “digital forms both borrow from and seek to surpass earlier forms.” We think that the blogging that our students are doing in Youth Voices does indeed “remediate” writing, reading, and research. We rely on our knowledge of writing pedagogy that comes from places like Peter Elbow’s Writing Without Teachers and James Moffett’s Teaching the Universe of Discourse. Our students are writing, collecting quotes from other blogs, news articles, and podcasts, and commenting to each other in ways that far surpass anything we have ever seen before! Each time we meet (such as in the podcast attached to this missionary statement), we tell each other stories about our students’ personal ownership of their blogs, authentic conversation, community building, and self-sponsored interest in becoming compelling communicators online.

Youth Voices only gets better when more and more teachers join.There’s something incredibly powerful about a social network of bloggers: Matt’s and Bob’s students in California, Chris’s students in Utah, Bill’s in New Jersey, Susan’s and Paul’s in New York, Alice’s and Mary’s in Maine. Each student in each of these schools brings a perspective, a set of values, imagination, and skill to our community.

We would welcome you to join us! Here’s how: Guidelines for Joining Youth Voices. Contact us by email ( [email protected] or [email protected]) or leave a comment here.

Experiment with a few students this spring. Plan with us this summer, and start blogging in your classroom this fall!

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