Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why should students blog?

This was written by Pernille Ripp who teacher fifth graders in Madison, Wisonsin. She blogs here and tweets here. This post first appeared here.

by Pernille Ripp

As a proponent of student blogging I am often asked what it "does" for my students. The thing is, it does quite a bit.

Provides them with a voice. Education cannot be done to students anymore, they have to have a voice since it is their lives it effects the most; blogging gives them that.

Gives them an authentic writing audience. The product doesn't end with me and a grade, it is out for the world to see and to continue to be developed. 
Puts their place in the world in context. We think our students know how much in common they have with kids their age around the world, but they don't usually. Blogging with those kids and connecting through projects such as the Global Read Aloud brings the world in.

Increases their global knowledge. Again, when you connect with others through your work and words, friendships develop and as does a mutual interest in the lives of one another This is the modern version of penpals.

Instills them with tech saviness and confidence. Blogging teaches my students yet another tool to use and we also use it to showcase other tools we have played around with. They feel confident in their skills as bloggers and it carries into their overall tech approach.

Instills safety rules and measures to be taken whilst online. We drill safety all year and the kids know the lessons by heart. It is our job to teach them how to be safe and the best way to do that is to work with them in situations that could be unsafe if treated the wrong way.

Teaches them how to give constructive feedback. We comment on each others posts but they have to be constructive comments. Blogging is a natural extension of the peer edit.

Teaches them how to have a meaningful written dialogue. When students don't get comments on their posts, we often go back to see why not. Usually they realize it was not written in a manner that invited others to participate in their writing. Revision and reformulating follows.

Cements proofreading and spell check. We don't want the world to see us as a poor spellers or grammatical buffoons.

Expands their geographical knowledge. We pushpin maps with the location of our connections, this sparks more questions, which lead to a deeper relationship between the students and those we connect with. 
Furthers their empathy, as well as interest in others. Blogging should not be a solitary experience, but rather one that invites discussion. To have meaningful discussions one must care about others, which is shown through their questions.

Encourages them to view their own writing through a more critical lens. Because we have a portfolio of their writing from the beginning of the year to now, we can go back and see their development. Are they developing as a writer or what do they need to focus on? The stakes are raised because it is not just the teacher that sees their work.

Creates reflective students. Because students are given a mouthpiece to the world, I see them take more chances to reflect on themselves and their choices. It is remarkable to see a student reflect on what grades has taught them or what it means to be a student.

It creates opportunities for us to have fun.


  1. Joe, I think if teachers have time, are comfortable with the use of technology, and have the resources this works fine. My experience has been many teachers see this as one more thing put on their plate with little or no understanding of what it takes to accomplish. Throw on top of this the perceived or real lack of time and support provided from those who seen as experts and order this from on high and it is a challenging process.

    Your article and the links provided are useful first step, albeit a small one, for many teachers. The question I have is "How many actually will read this and gain some benefit?"


  2. Ivon, thank you for your comment. This is not my only post on student logging and I think with each post written, each discussion had more and more teachers see the ease and value in integrating a blog. I recently wrote another post of ideas on how to integrate student blogs into your classroom, thus not making it one more thing on your plate. It can be seen here

  3. The blogging can be part of real tasks for real purposes. We found this in joint school projects where we created a 'community' of four schools in four countries. The pupils had their own accounts but all contributions were visible and we could use this to create virtual projects and virtual forums. We used Oracle Thinkquest which is very suitable for schools though is sadly coming to an end. But there is an explosion of such new media and new forms of communication and it is essential for schools to be part of the real world, which this now is. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but the current audit and accountability systems could not really deal with it. That is a big problem.


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