It seems that the expectations assigned to English teachers becomes larger and more nuanced with each year. Teach technology. Read a variety of texts. Create global citizens. Nurture critical thinkers. Produce analytical writers.
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Implementing blogs as “texts” is an easy way to address all of these issues at once. You might consider having students read blogs daily, weekly or 2-3 times per quarter depending on your time constraints. Since many English teachers implement an exploring the issues, or a follow the columnist assignment adapting such an exercise that focuses on columns/editorials could easily be adapted for a blog reading assignment.
When students can actually choose a credible author with journalistic presence and style who blogs they win. Instead of one column per week students could follow their “blogger” each day or several days a week via your classroom. Even better, students can follow a blog that focused on a certain type of content that they find highly interesting. The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wired, The National Geographic all have blogs. Well written and small in size they are easy for students to “digest” and they provide thoughtful writing and meaningful content.
By following a respected blogger students can become experts and global citizens. We complain about their lack of knowledge and their inability to assess arguments and style. Reading a blog of merit is a means towards achieving this goal. Below are some basic ideas for you to implement along with a blogs as text unit. Tomorrow I’ll provide a list of blogs to give students as choices
Reading Blogs as Text Assignments
- Have students read and construct a SOAPSTone chart and précis paragraph.
- Ask that students annotate using a tool like awesome highlighter or Evernote.
- Ask students to identify explicit/implicit arguments in the blog post. Even ask that students identify the values/morals of the writer based on their voice.
- Instead of summarizing ask that students construct a list of essential questions as they read. These questions should identify the big picture arguments of the author and pose them in the format of moral/ethical questions.
- After having read several posts or for several weeks asks student to do a style analysis of their author.
- Ask students to construct argument prompts in the fashion of the AP Language and Composition test or the SAT based on the moral/ethical arguments consistently raised by their “blogger.” Provide them with a list of ideas or a starting point for prompts based on the debate topics Emily’s previously identified in her GRE post.