Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guest Blog: Blogging and Comprehension

Lindsey Wright is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education.

I’m sharing Lindsey’s post with you in the hope it will motivate you to consider blogging with your students—if you haven’t already started.

Blogging and Comprehension by Lindsey Wright

While it's customary for students to write research papers or complete other one-off writing assignments everywhere from online college classes to traditional grade schools, many teachers at all levels are begining to discover that incorporating blogs into the curriculm provides for much more effective teaching. The main reason for this is that blogging is by nature dynamic, always growing and changing while providing fresh web content on a regular basis. As such, using blogs in the classroom allows students to tap into this continual flow of words to improve their own writing, gain critical technology-based skills, and aid in overall comprehension of school subjects.

Ultimately blogs provide an active forum for learning that can be utilized even in the early elementary classroom to engage students and improve interaction. Having to present ideas to their peers in a clear, concise manner on a regular basis requires students to expand their knowledge of class subjects and aids in overall comprehension. Likewise, the critical thinking skills acquired through blogging can be applied to other areas of life, including higher education and, eventually, the workplace.

Blogging as a Learning Tool

Blogs offer many powerful tools for teachers who are looking to integrate technology in the classroom. Serious bloggers create new posts several days a week, making blogging the ultimate writing project. It’s been well established that writing on a regular basis is the best way to practice and become a better writer overall. Blogs provide a focus for this type of practice and can be used to engage students in the act of writing far more often than large projects like research papers allow. This is as true for young students learning basic writing skills as it is for middle and high schoolers developing more advanced literary ability.

Integrating the active nature of blogging into the classroom can be done in several ways, each with its own advantages. Students may have their own individual blogs, or teachers can start a collaborative classroom blog to bring a class together on a particular project. The key is making use of the unique learning opportunities offered by blogs.

Student Blogs

Journaling has been a typical classroom activity for many years. As technology advances, individual student blogs become the next logical step. Blogs offer a sense of community not found with paper journals. When journaling for class, students know that the teacher is the only person who is going to be reading their work. However, with blogs, students can read each other’s posts, thereby creating a network of classmates who also have the opportunity to respond to the writing of their peers. This encourages students to really think about what they’re writing and put effort into presenting ideas in a clear, comprehensible manner.

Through continued use, a blog can improve student articulation and critical thinking skills. How does this translate to comprehension? Writing blog posts involves careful consideration of content. A good blogger doesn’t simply cobble a post together, throw in a few links and call it done. On the contrary, blogging involves the same critical thought as traditional classroom writing projects. Students who blog have to take the time to consider what they’re writing about and work out how to best present their opinions and ideas. In order to do this with clarity, students have to develop a solid grasp of the subject on which they’re writing.

Collaborative Blogs

Teachers can also create a collaborative or community blog for their students. The most important difference between this and individual student blogging is the ability of the teacher or instructor to easily moderate posts and comments. Most blogging platforms allow for the creation of a main or administrator account that can control the overall flow of activity on a blog. With this option, teachers set parameters so that they can review each piece of content before it appears on the blog, thus eliminating the possibility of inappropriate material going live. Moderation makes it possible to use collaborative blogging even with young children.

An instructor-moderated blog in which the entire class can participate opens the door to endless possibilities. Teachers can post writing prompts or discussion questions and have students respond in the comments section, thus creating an open forum for discussion. This free flow of ideas requires the same sort of careful thought that students should be applying to everyday classroom discussions. However, having to articulate their answers through writing encourages students to slow down and consider the words they’re using. A comprehensive knowledge of the subject at hand is also required to facilitate interaction and promote the academic sharing of ideas.

Since it’s possible to post a blog comment from anywhere, community blog activity isn’t restricted to the block of time reserved for a subject during the school day. When at home both students and teachers participating in a blog can take the time to write thorough, thoughtful posts and comments as well as respond to each other in ways that aren’t possible during class. This further aids comprehension in that teachers can provide more in-depth information for students to read on their own time, along with links for further reading.

Blogs vs. Research Papers

The thought of a traditional research paper makes most students groan in anticipation of long hours spent at the library, mountains of notes, and the final frantic scramble to bring everything together. While traditional research is still very important for students to practice, teachers should consider the benefits that blogging has over bigger writing projects.

The fact that a blog post isn’t as long as a whole paper is a plus. Rather than having to wade through page after page of information, both students and teachers can break a subject down into manageable chunks. Students get the luxury of using the Internet to do research on their own time, and teachers are spared having to read and correct sheaves of lengthy reports. It’s also much easier for teachers to check the sources used by students in blog posts, given that links are included right with the writing rather than being listed in the ubiquitous bibliography pages at the end of a traditional paper.

Additionally, knowing that the teacher is going to be checking their work this closely should motivate students to find quality information and put together thoughtful blog posts. Student blog posts have the potential to be more comprehensive and original than a paper comprised mostly of information regurgitated from sources that the teacher may never see.


  1. Loved reading this post-I am going to try blogging with my kids this year!

  2. Let Lindsey and I know how it turns out. I'm sure the kids will love it.

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