Embrace the medium

One of the perennial problems teachers face, especially in early years education, is trying to get children to write. The main problem is that children are expected to write in a vacuum, for an audience of one (the teacher). There is often very little incentive in this exercise for kids, who would probably rather be doing other things with their time like playing on their Nintendo. But several schools are beginning to address this 'won't write' problem by making it entertaining and productive through the use of social media. In an article entitled Could blogging be the key to raising a generation of great writers? Liz Dwyer argues for creating audiences online for children to write for:

'"I don't like to write." That's the refrain teachers have heard for a generation when they ask students why they're struggling to complete a short, three-paragraph essay. Thankfully, more and more educators are using two things kids love, technology and social media, to change that. By encouraging students to write on their own blogs, savvy teachers are helping kids take their writing out of the classroom vacuum, and cultivate a broader audience.'

Liz is right of course. Children raise their game when they know they are being watched, so why should it be any different with writing? David Mitchell, Acting Head Teacher at Bolton's Heathfield Primary School is a great advocate of blogging as a means to develop children's writing skills. He reveals that some children are proactive
in setting up their own blogs when they realise they can write for a large audience and actually receive feedback. Many of the children at Heathfield have become avid bloggers, and the results of this are clear for all to see. According to David, some children within the school have raised their literacy attainment scores by two full levels. Blogging is gaining ground, and it's not that hard to set up for a group of children in your own school. Some teachers reading this might ask the question: What about internet safety and child protection? Well, I could answer here and now, but I won't. Instead, I'll let Liz Dwyer answer:

'Concerns about online privacy have historically made teachers wary of allowing students to blog, but the rise of platforms built specifically for students has made blogging safer for kids of all ages. Plus, in our networked 21st century world, more teachers are already taking precautions by talking about internet safety, telling kids not to reveal their home addresses or engage in online bullying. Let's hope more teachers embrace the medium and let their students get some real-world writing experience.'

This post as first published on August 4, 2011.

Image by WallMic

Creative Commons License
Getting the bloggers to write by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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