Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I Want Students to Blog

Got a screen-clipping I'd like to share with you.

This is from the blog of one of my Freshmen in West Civ class. You can see the titles of his recent posts: "Exam Practice", "Battle of Tours Wiki Source", "Notes West Civ 5/20/10", "Is Monarchy More or Less Effective Than Democracy?", etc.

You'll also notice the number of posts this student published in 2010. He published 113 blog posts.

One-hundred and thirteen blog posts.

During a semester long course.

The required number of blog posts for the course?


What is going on here?

What's going on here is a case where we've got a student who OWNS his blog. We've got a student who has turned his blog into a veritable compendium of West Civ that he is going to be able to use as a searchable reference throughout his high school career.

He is going to eat AP Modern Euro for lunch. He is going to pwn British Literature in his senior year.

Because he owns his knowledge. He owns his understanding. And he's made something authentic: his own personal resource... and a record of the history of his own ideas.

That's why I want students to blog.


  1. Any reason why you didn't link to the student's blog in your post?

  2. The students in class have personal blogs (where they have things like notes, in class writing, final exams, etc.) meant as a place to keep a searchable record of everything they've done throughout the course. They also have public class blogs where they publish work they've done that they want to share with the world: (this was our 3rd quarter public blog).

    To respect privacy, I let the students decide whether they want to make their student blogs public or not. But they all have the option to post directly to our public class blogs.

    (I think that all makes sense.)

    - Shelly

  3. Shelley! This is insane! What kind of student was this? Did the blogging actually make a difference for him or would he have been an over achiever either way.

  4. I love your enthusiasm for this student. Your students are blessed to have a teacher who cares enough to teach them to care about their own learning.

  5. So it's a private blog, then?

  6. Awesome...not sure how many can domthis, but wow...

  7. Wow. Absolutely astonishing! I think blogging can be a great tool, and it's great to see that other teachers are using the technology that their students are using to make a connection with them. It really makes the blog itself an authentic means of assessment because the student can use the blog for many other applications than simply the current class it was intended for.

  8. Have you ever considered using Google Notebook? If so, was it successful? OR what are your reasons for not using it?

  9. All great ideas here, but here's my question: Is this student's blog a mere web log of ideas learned in class, or an impetus for a social dialogue with other students who read and comment on his blog? Is he equally verbose on other digital media?

  10. I love this and would love to share it with faculty in a blogging workshop. For the ones who worry about depth, I would like to testify as an English teacher who saw her AP students make giant leaps in sophistication of writing and thinking once they started blogging (which they REQUESTED, by the way).

  11. This is very interesting to me -- I'm having a conversation with Sue over at edublogger about student-run blogs vs teacher-run blogs. One small study that I wrote about from ISTE (here: suggested that student run blogs didn't work well because students didn't care about communicating with the world at large. They were more interested in communicating in a local community -- ie., with their peers at school. That didn't match Sue's experience, and it sounds like it doesn't match yours. Feel free to weigh in on our conversation over at or comment on my original post at

    That's the thing with educational technology -- what people find useful depends on how they're using it.


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