Getting Creative with Writing Part 3: Blogging

Writing can take many forms, especially in today's world of rapidly advancing technology and artistic expression. We asked English teacher Peter Kelly to share some different writing projects with us, the third of which is below. Get inspired by reading the rest of the series

“Where the Internet is about the availability of information, blogging is about making information creation available to anyone.”

(Writer and researcher on learning, George Siemens)

Setting up a class blog offers our technologically literate young people the chance to actively interact with a major source of interest and thanks to excellent tools such as Wordpress (.org not .com – the latter is for the pros!) no programming knowledge is necessary. All you need to do is create a blog account and a template for its design then you’re ready to begin filling your website with pupil content. It is, of course, a good idea to keep the username and password to yourself to ensure you have control over what is published.

Many teachers already use a blog as a home for resources and as a means of distributing homework or sharing PowerPoints delivered in class, which is obviously excellent practice. However, blogging also presents a brilliant opportunity for young people to share their work, flicking open their jotters to the whole world including their parents, who are able to leave comments on their child’s writing. Peer assessment is made easy and the positive impact of an encouraging comment from another pupil cannot be underestimated. By extension, this approach could also be used for moderation of writing standards between teachers if each of their classes has a blog of this sort.

I began using this approach to writing a few years ago when I started a blog for my S1 class and had them write monthly posts as homework. All content was to be written and edited by pupils in order to offer opportunities for peer evaluation and to present a genuine reflection of pupil ability.

I based the structure of the blog on the Guardian website with sections on topics such as film, sport and technology. Pupils were put in groups of four and sections would revolve around the classroom to ensure that each month would present a different topic for the young people to write about.

Of course, blogging means much more than writing text and there are lots of opportunities to teach pupils how to embed images, insert hyperlinks and add audio and video widgets into posts.

Groups have an editorial meeting at the start of each month to discuss ideas for articles and to offer suggestions. The role of editor also revolves each month in order to give everyone in the group the responsibility of overseeing deadlines, checking work for errors and managing the overall quality of content produced.

Finally, posts are submitted to the teacher for publication on the last Friday of the month, either by email or from a USB.

Blogging is not only the perfect antidote to the ”dog ate my homework” scenario but is also a fun way of encouraging an interest in writing and collaboration between peers.

A really nice indicator of the effectiveness of a class blog is the number of views the site receives on the day posts are uploaded. Pupils take pride in their work being hosted online, almost as if it were a global wall display, and parents are afforded a unique peak behind the classroom door involving them more fully in their child’s literacy development.

We also have lots of other great blogs on creative writing to inspire you. 

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a secondary English teacher based in South Lanarkshire, currently working on secondment as a Development Officer. Stay tuned for the next blog in his Getting Creative with Writing series!