I left the following as a comment today on the ISTEconnects blog post, “ISTEConnects to Attend WordCamp on Your Behalf ~ We Want your Questions!” This was in response to Ann Grub’s question, “Do you think middle school students should blog? Why or why not?”
I definitely think middle school students should be blogging, as well as elementary and high school students. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, students need to practice their writing skills regularly, and blogging is an excellent way to do this. We get better at things we practice regularly. It is common for kids to be required to read regularly during and after school, but regular writing assignments are less common. Blogging provides a way to both encourage and empower students students to write regularly.
The second main reason I’d argue students (including middle school students) should be blogging is so they can learn how to properly and responsibly use hyperlinked writing. Hyperlinks are one of the foundational technologies of the Internet. Students use hyperlinks by clicking on them, but far fewer create their own hyperlinks as part of their class assignments. Certainly the prevalence of social networking platforms has increased opportunities for students to use hyperlinks in their writing, but voluntary student use of social networking platforms does not necessarily result in students learning about hyperlinking and responsible use of hyperlinks.
Students should be encouraged to blog responsibly so they can discover their own voice. This is not the case for everyone, but some students are able to really discover their own voice via writing. The encouragement and positive feedback which young writers can receive through writing on blogs and other social websites can play an important role in defining identity for a young person. Students can and do often discover the power of their words, and the importance of sharing thoughts as well as ideas.
I commend the Support Blogging Wiki to you for additional resources related to student blogging, including lots of great links to classroom blogs where you can find examples of student work.
I’d add to this answer the importance of helping students take proactive control over their “digital footprints” and the importance of teaching digital citizenship at school. By regularly writing on a blog and discussing the issues which arise as a result of interactions there, students as well as teachers can learn a wealth of things related to digital citizenship on an ongoing basis.
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