Foster a Writing Community in your Classroom by Creating a Class Blog
This past year, I was so excited to be invited as a collaborator for this very blog- TeachWriting.org. This experience has provided me an opportunity to learn so much from my co-authors on this site. Their ideas are interesting, creative, and engaging; they have truly inspired me to be a better educator. I have also found that this collaborative experience has compelled me to become a better author on this blog and on my personal blog as well!
It is because of this rich and rewarding experience that I have decided to build my own community of collaborative authors within my classroom. This fall, I will be establishing a class blog for my students, allowing them to grow together as authors, building a unique platform to showcase/display their works to the world!
I began this process by creating a free blog on Blogger. There are many blogging platforms available; I chose Blogger for its ease of use, and its free price tag! In my research, I found this diagram below; this helped me to determine the best hosting site for my personal blogging needs.
As you begin the set-up process, you will be asked to create a custom url. I chose a generic url (9thgradeelawritingblog.blogspot.com) that could be used year after year. I then created a name for this blog. For this year, I created a specific blog title for my students, but it may be a good idea to have students brainstorm and vote on a name for their own blog. This could pique interest as well as generate engagement and ownership in this blog.
Next, I simply created pages for students to add their comments, links to their google docs, and post their writing within the blog!
Who We Are:
I created a “Who We Are” page to showcase students in the classroom. The images on the site currently are simply stock images, but these will be replaced by students learning within my classroom very soon!
I created a “Deep Thoughts” page for students to share insights and commentary on life as a ninth grade student. Students will be able to add comments to this page throughout the year. I see this as the twitter feed of their school life.
Support Page: Questions? Editing? Advice?
I created this page for students to help one another throughout the school year. They can ask questions about the class, ask for help in editing and revising their work, or writing advice as they need it!
Short Stories Page:
This page is for students to showcase their creative writing. Students will be able to add links to their Google Documents for others to read and enjoy. My hope is that this will be similar to Wattpad for students. A place where students can think and write creatively while sharing their voice. Nothing is more powerful than giving students a forum for their voice, and the confidence to share it with others.
A Place for Poets Page:
Similar to the Short Stories page, this page will provide students an opportunity to share their poetry. I envision a coffee house atmosphere where students read aloud their poetry to an engaged audience snapping their fingers in applause- or at least the digital version of this!
Last year, I had three students who were exceedingly passionate about nonfiction writing. They dreamed of a life in journalism, reporting the worlds’ events to a voracious reading audience. This is a place for these students to share their news reports, research reports, editorials, etc. It just so happens that I also run the newspaper club on campus, so this will be a great place to bolster ideas and articles for the school newspaper!
I am still searching for ideas on other great pages to include within this classroom blog. If you have any ideas or suggestions for amazing pages that would engage learners in your classroom, please leave them in the comments section! I would love to learn from all of the wonderful teachers out there as well!
The final step in creating this blog was to write that very first blog entry. I used this first entry to introduce the purpose, goals, and vision for this classroom blog. I also hoped to inspire some interest and excitement for this year long writing project!
My school year does not begin for several more weeks, but I could not be more excited to introduce this project for the very first time to my new freshman students!
Liz is a collaborator on teachwriting.org and the founder of Teach BeTween the Lines. She has been teaching for over ten years; she has loved growing young minds through literature and the art of crafting the written word. She is currently working on her doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota, and holds an M.A. in Education from St. Mary’s University, Minnesota. She loves to write short stories in her free time, especially in those cold Minnesota winters. She is supported by a wonderful family made better by the addition of her two beautiful children.