“Writing is a public act,” says New York teacher Ileana Jimenez, who encourages her students to blog. Rather than having them write a paper and hand it in only for the teacher to read, waiting for some kind of assessment, Jimenez offers a different perspective in this interview with the Atlantic at the Aspen Ideas Festival: “Writing should be public, it should give a sense of urgency and visibility… for students to feel that their writing has a voice in the world.”

Why Students Should Learn to Write for the Public 2 July,2012MindShift

  • This past year I required students to write using blogs. At each grade level (9-12), the  English Department at my school  has used blogs in the classroom in order to increase student reading and writing collaboration. I wrote about how Our “Lord of the Flies” unit included “survival activities” on team blogs for 10 graders. The freshmen classes used a blog in different ways: to record individual book reports, and to respond to questions associated with whole class reads.. The journalism class’s newspaper format is a blog, and we have also had students blog responses to Hamlet or record their progress on Capstone projects. 
    I did research before starting the use of blogs in the classroom and found I needed to determine audiences. According to Trey Martindale and David A Wiley,  in their research Using Weblogs in Scholarship and Teaching, “Clearly two keys to effective blogging are knowing who one’s audience is, and knowing that that audience is in fact reading one’s blog. My students were motivated and willing to write regularly and with clarity, knowing that fellow students and the instructor were reading the blogs.”  I was careful to discuss audiences for my students by having them ask, “Who am I writing this blog for?”

  • More powerful than telling a student to blog is asking a student which outlets exist that may want to feature their work. Not only does this give the student a built in audience, but it can also create a mentor.

  • Will Fitzhugh

    I have published HS student history research papers for the public for 25 years in The Concord Review, a unique quarterly, now with 1,022 essays by students from 46 states and 38 other countries. See samples at http://www.tcr.org or email fitzhugh@tcr.org.

  • Annie Delgado

    I like that students are using blogs for writing. I enjoyed hearing that a student received a comment from another author. I feel that this student felt that their voice “mattered.”  Bravo!

  • I completely argree with t

  • Anonymous

    I too agree.  I’ve found open authorship among English-as-a-foreign language writers to be quite motivating for both them and me.  How do others feel about the type of open licenses used to openly publish student work (e.g., Creative Commons, etc.)?

  • Writing for an audience is important for kids at all ages, even as young as 7. Not to be forgotten is asking for and giving feedback. It encourages kids to help each other write more compelling stories. Sharing with a friend is fun, and scary – the 2nd graders told me 🙂


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