At the risk of riding into another semantic train wreck, I’m looking for a couple of good examples of student blogging. Blogging as in writing that has “Links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked [to] and written [about] with potential audience response in mind.” (Was that really almost four years ago?)
I put up a couple of Tweets looking for examples, and while many folks were more than helpful in providing me with posts to look at (thanks to all who offered), none of them fit the bill, somehow. Much of the writing was good if not excellent. And most had a link or two to sources. But it felt too report-ish, not “connective” enough somehow.
Maybe I’m asking too much here, but I’m still surprised at how difficult it is to find K-12 students using their blogs to really try to connect with their readers around the topics that they are reading and writing about. To do more than reflect, but to really articulate new thinking or understanding in the writing.
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Don’t know if this will fit your bill, but here is my 12-year-old son’s blog:
Arthus Erea says
What if I blog on my own, outside of the classroom? I’d like to think I am pretty connected with my blogging…
Will, check out this blog we are trying to grow at a school in lower Manhattan. In my opinion, these 8th graders are making some real attempts at connective writing.
Bill Ferriter says
Your thoughts about connective writing are defintely challenging me to look at our blog posts in a new way.
Over the past years, these two posts are probably the best examples of kids wrestling with their own thinking. They came in a strand about who heroes were—and they are some “back and forth” posts between two students:
The big challenge for me, though, is that these kids were my top performers….I’ve got to try to get this kind of thinking going more often, right?
Bill Ferriter says
Your thoughts about connective writing are definitely challenging me to look at our blog posts in a new way.
Over the past years, these three posts are probably the best examples of kids wrestling with their own thinking. They came in a strand about who heroes were—and they are some “back and forth” posts between two students:
The challenge for me is that these are three posts out of hundreds in the history of our blog—and theyâ€™re written by my top performers.
Looking forward to seeing what you spotlight as top stuffâ€¦I think I need some exemplars!
I suspect there are tons of kids are blogging (like real blogging with links and connections and real ideas) about things they really care about, and many of those topics happen to involve learning, whether it is explicit or not. As soon as we filter out that self-directed stuff by insisting on looking for “students”, (a label assigned by others) and focus on topics and activities that have been assigned to them by us, they’re just jumping through hoops. I think that’s why the tone and authenticity of the posts you’re finding seem somewhat lacking.
Kim Cavanaugh says
They’re doing plenty of that Will.
But most kids don’t want adults to be a part of that world. They prefer interacting in their own way and at a much faster pace than anything you can do in school once you make social networking a “project”.
The creativity of youth can be seen all over the web. You just rarely see it done in an educational context.
Michael R. Golden says
I agree with your statement that kids do not want to talk to adults and the adults really should not be responding to students.
What you should do is post a writing assignment that you as the teacher begins and the student log on and continue the story. They will have alot of fun and learn at the same time.
Arthus Erea says
I beg to differ. I am 15, and I am also an author over on Students 2.0.
My colleagues and I are eager to participate in the conversations and help to mold our own education. As for adults not responding, I’d ask you to take a look at the comment counts on many of our posts.
Sounds like you think kids are not capable of intelligent thought and should be talked to be not listened to. I can only wonder how you are a teacher (if you even are).
Cheryl Lykowski says
This is may not be what you are looking for at http://globalexplorers.learnerblogs.org.
My students are just starting to blog. It came out of our collaborative project with students in Bucaramanga, Colombia. After several podcasts and Skype video calls, we had some students that wanted to start a blog because they had questions for the partner school and they felt that waiitng for a podcast/skype call was too long. The first student entry on money was interesting because another teacher from New Zealand ended up not only commenting but posting a Voice Thread on the topic.
Brandt Schneider says
To do more than reflect, but to really articulate new thinking or understanding in the writing.
I think many teachers wait years for a student with really new thinking. But we know they are out there. This seems to be a great example of how we can “discover” new talent through the network.
Some examples from my class OneTwo. We do about 1-2000 entries per month. SOMETHING has to be of quality from all that writing…
I just saw this on another blog and thought it might be what you’re looking for.
Brian Crosby says
I blogged about this after your request and my weak link that was not what you were really asking for. I think we will all be interested if you ever find an example that is exactly what you are looking for … what are the implications if you can’t??? Fodder for a future post?
I’ve been thinking about this for months. How do we teach true blogging (as opposed to the assigned blogging that goes on)? I’m interested in learning about teaching and technology, so I follow blogs written by others who are interested in sharing their journey concerning this topic; but what are students interested in reading about, in blog form, that other students might be sharing in the blogosphere? What can blogs offer students that they can’t get on the playground — or in less structured MSN form. I have yet to see any middle school examples or what I believe you might be looking for (there are high school examples in the later grades). Are blogs too “mature” a pursuit? Are we asking too much to expect an “adult”-styled blog from a child? I don’t have an answer. I’ll continue to set up blogs for my students every year, and wait for something reflective to happen.
Will Richardson says
@arthus You do a great job of blogging outside of the classroom, no doubt. I need an example from the classroom.
@jeremy I hear you. Just in this case I need an example of something happening in schools
@kim Right, but should we be teaching them how to do it in school? Not as a project, but as a way of life (learning)?
@jarbenne Great questions! I think we teach it by modeling it and by making it a part of what we do from the earliest grades. We scaffold it up. The bigger question is whether we want to teach blogging and networking in the first place. If we don’t see the value in that, if those aren’t skills that we feel are important, than it’s never going to happen.
Justin Medved says
I have been very impressed with these students: http://students2oh.org/
Tim Klobuchar says
I’m relieved to see the comments that let me know I wasnâ€™t alone in my struggles. In my course evaluations (I teach a film class), I asked for specific feedback on blogs â€“ some wanted to completely dump them, but others gave helpful insights, like writing one post after each unit instead of each film they watch. This way, they have more of a choice and will be more interested. Also, some suggested writing about movies they see outside class (definitely makes it seem less â€œschoolish,â€ which seems like a problem with blogging assignments in general). Next, those who wrote about comments said they pretty much need to be mandatory in order to get kids to read each othersâ€™ blogs. Which leads me to the last finding â€“ several students mentioned that having time in class to work on blogs would be very beneficial. This is something that a high school teacher at my school (who wrote her masterâ€™s thesis on student blogging), does to encourage comments on her studentsâ€™ blogs â€“ she schedules a few days per semester in the media center to have her students read other blogs and comment on them. I know Iâ€™m reluctant to veer away from what Iâ€™m doing in class, but I guess some kind of sacrifice needs to be made in order to make this work.
Mark Franek says
Here are links to 2 of my students’ blogs (from the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia). Note: these are individual student blogs, not classroom blogs, and they are basically entirely controlled by the kids (I do not, nor have I ever had to, moderate posts or comments):
From the sidebar, you can jump to every member of the class (all 11th graders, when they first started the blog project). Their blogs are mostly presentation portfolios on “digital steroids,” meaning that I tried to imitate what I used to do with extant chapbooks (book-elements and design concepts et. al).
But you can see that many of the students have done more than merely post their paper-work online. They have uploaded a lot of other digital content and mixed that content with both in and out of schoolwork. They also posted images and podcasts, and pretty much turned their sites into sort of “MySpace pages dressed up and ready for its first job interview.” I include links to these sites whenever I write college recommendations, and I have heard back from admissions officers who have been quite impressed.
you may remember Michael Moulton (director of technology at Penn Charter) from an old presentation you did at Penn Charter a few years ago. He helped me with getting the kids up and running with wordpress, especially since most of my students opted to use the school’s hosting service, rather than the general wordpress site.
Mark Franek, Ed.D.
(ex-dean of students/English Teacher at Penn Charter)
Mark Franek says
Here’s a link to 2 of my students’ blogs (from the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia). Note: these are not classroom blogs, but *individual* student blogs. They have almost complete control of the content and the navigation and the choice of theme. I have never (yet) had to nix a post or a comment (there’s a whole system for this, but that’s not the subject of this post):
From their sidebar, you can jump to every member of the class (all 11th graders, when they first started the blog project). Their blogs are mostly presentation portfolios on “digital steroids,” meaning that I tried to imitate what I used to do with extant chapbooks (book-elements and design concepts et. al).
But you can see that many of the students have done more than merely post their paper-work online. They have uploaded a lot of other digital content and mixed that content with both in and out of schoolwork. They also posted images and podcasts, and pretty much turned their sites into sort of “MySpace pages dressed up and ready
for its first job interview.” I include links to these sites whenever I write college recommendations, and I have heard back from admissions officers who have been quite impressed.
See current high-school seniors Todd Cooke and Jordyn Shafer’s blogs:
I am no longer at the school; I am teaching first-year college students, but I have permission from the head of school to use these sites as examples wherever I go. And you may remember Michael Moulton (director of technology at Penn Charter) from an old presentation you did at Penn Charter a few years ago. He helped me with getting the kids up and running with WordPress, especially since most of my students opted to use the school’s hosting service, rather than the general wordpress site.
Mark Franek, Ed.D.
(ex-dean of students/English Teacher at Penn Charter)
David Boone says
Anyone using blogs or wiki’s in a high school mathematics class? I’m interested in what you’ve tried along with your successes and failures.
Clay Burell says
I have to keep this one short.
In my situation, I think you are expecting too much. I’ve come to conclude that my students have been exhausted by so much drudgery in 12 years of schooling that they a) have no self-directed interests or passions to learn (no time to develop them, as that’s all been usurped by homework and night and weekend schools); b) no desire to do anything that feels like more homework, which my “Visionary Student Blogging” and “Connective Writing” project began to feel like when I pushed them to link, reflect on learning, and all that adult stuff that we get off on.
We have time and freedom. We have years that have birthed questions in us. Secondary students don’t have our advantages.
Me? I just want them to blog for expressive habit right now. That’s my latest position.
They can think when they have time to: after they graduate, and get some time to breathe.
Hey Will… I, too, have spent time looking for examples of this for my own professional development workshops without much luck. Certainly schools aren’t giving students much in the way of opportunity to use these skills but I think it is more complex than that. My own successes and failures using “connective” technologies (to borrow your term) suggest to me that our students are really as savvy as we give them credit. They may indeed use these technologies in ways that past generations don’t, but that doesn’t mean they can or will use these technologies in ways that their potential may be.
Hi Will..let me just say that I have just now started using student blogs as part of my classroom assignments. I was inspired to do this after reading your book and talking with some colleagues in my graduate program. Anwyay, I would love to share their work with you. My site sort of “hosts” all of the students blogs and can be found at
If you are looking for one great example, check out this student’s blog:
Thanks for all of your inspiration!
Will, I have just begun to use student blogs in my classroom after being inspired to integrate technology by your book. I think I have some examples that might fit your needs. My student blog “hosting” site is:
One really great student example:
Thanks for all of your inspiration!
Kyle Brumbaugh says
Getting students to move forward with their own blogging is difficult. Here are a few examples from our Global Communications classes.
This is definitely a work in progress… currently, the students are looking at the 10 flatteners from Friedman’s “The World Is Flat”
D Maas says
Arapahoe High School is blogging with Daniel Pink and about 30 other adults on A Whole New Mind. Looking at each classes blog posts, you’ll find 150+ comments not unusual at all.
They’ve only just begun too….
Melissa Tredenick says
I know you talk a lot about blogging in education. What about Wikis? I have found those more useful than blogs. I’d be interested to see how others are using Wikis in the classroom….in case you’re wondering too and want to ask others??
Allan J. Ruter says
As my blog attests, my students and I are in the midst of an extended research project on topics with both American and global connections. As part of this project, each student has created a subject-specific blog. See the their work at http://www.worldlyteacher.blogspot.com. Let me know what you think. Better yet, let my students know what you think!
Matt Lyons says
My students are working on a wiki (latinamericanimmigration.wetpaint.com), which I will actually have to load onto the site (our district doesn’t like kids having unsupervised access to wikis and blogs), but since 40-50% of my kids are immigrants, I think this will be something impressive when we get it up and running in mid February.
Vicki Davis says
My students are blogging under pseudonyms and I’ve been working to teach them “real” blogging, not report writing blogging. I’ll share a few of my favorites with you. We used my blog post 10 habits of bloggers that win and I taught them everything.
I loved the Queen Couture Fashion blog analysis of fashion of the political candidates and the insight it gave her into the politics of each candidate. (Interestingly, my last assignment to write on these blogs was way back in November.)
I also enjoy The Nascar News from a Nascar Fan and The Movieworms blog which is a group blog.
If you look at what these students have done, they have become pretty good bloggers. We will continue to blog on their blogs. They enjoy it a lot.
And you are right, true blogging is a lot different than report writing.
Your blog is thought provoking, when I read the last paragraph I paused for a while and thought about all the responses I gave about how I would use blogs in my writing class . I realized that I mentioned designing a lesson plan that would incorporate blogs as a space that students would use when writing their reflections about how their different drafts would be progressing during composition. I wrote about having students use blogs when giving each other feedback in their drafts as well as making students think about the larger audience when they use blogs. However, I never thought of looking for a sample of K-12 student blogs that connect with their readers around the topics that would be reading and writing about. I think it is easy to assume that students would connect with a larger audience with similar interest yet in real life that is not happening. When teachers are using blogs in class, they should also help students to focus on connecting with other readers rather than using blogs only for class journals, reflection or as a space for peer feedback. What Richardson discussed shows how some teachers if not most have the technology but fail to make students maximize its use. Since blogs are meant for social networking, that would be limiting their use if teachers do not pay attention on making students connect with other readers other than their fellow peers
Perhaps I can assist you. I am a High school AP English student, and my class has formed a small blogging circle dedicated solely to uncovering the truth. Our teacher has encouraged us to write (and hopefully speak) to our readers about influential world topics and I hope that my blog has done so. I am currently switching my blog to another host, so here are both of the URLâ€™s.
When my teacher told me about your expedition to find â€œstudent bloggingâ€, I couldn’t help but offer up my own blog for you to examine. I am a high school (AP) student and a first-year blogger, so my blog, too, may fail to meet your expectations.
As our teacher has taught us over the course of the last semester, blogging is a great way to practice writing arguments–the same kind of writing that we will compose this spring while taking the AP English Language and Composition exam.
Best of luck in your search for quality student blogging.