Tag Archive for Blogs as Text

Blogs as Text: Assignments

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

  1. Have students read and construct a SOAPSTone chart and précis paragraph.
  2. Ask that students annotate using a tool like awesome highlighter or Evernote.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After having read several posts or for several weeks asks student to do a style analysis of their author.
  6. 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.

Blogs as Text: Overview

It is difficult to get 6-12th graders to read.  This isn’t even an argument about getting them to read well, closely or critically.  They just don’t read.  Sometimes they don’t even read things that they would actually enjoy like The Catcher in the Rye or The Things They Carried.  And it’s infuriating.  As teachers, we often bemoan the lack of reading our students do. But what’s to be done?  Offering student choice is important but it can be daunting even for a seasoned teacher.  Finding resources that are well written and engaging can prove exhausting.  And in light of technology’s effect on publication shouldn’t students be reading a variety of online texts?

It’s no wonder we struggle.

My argument is not that we do away with Heart of Darkness or The Scarlet Letter or even the glorious Light in August.  Students need to be challenged and held accountable.  But I do want students to read texts they find enjoyable without sacrificing journalistic and literary merit.

So many educators argue the need for students to critically analyze a variety of texts.  And so many more argue the importance of using blogs in the classroom.  But frequently those two arguments don’t overlap in a way that identifies blogs as texts to supplement student reading.  In all fairness, it can be difficult to find blogs that students can read consistently for style, argument and substance.  And yet, they do exist.  It is the goal of this week’s post to identify them and discuss how to use them in classroom.  These posts will consider a variety of student interests (i.e. science, technology, cars, pop culture) without sacrificing quality in hopes that as an educator you can have students spend a “unit” or even a quarter towards studying and reading blogs.