Reflections on EVO (2009 and later)

My first professional blog

Collaborative writing (Week Three)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 30, 2009

Blogging

I have to confess I have never used a blog with any of my classes.  My main concerns so far have been student privacy and the inability to upload documents.

Carla Arena’s article highlights the real-life nature of writing when it is done on a blog, as it involves writing for an audience and not just the teacher. However, as Graham Stanley points out, one of the dangers of blogging is that student interest may soon wane, unless frequent tasks are required from them.  Why RSS is crucial for a Blogging Classroom, suggested by Yulia , seems to be an area to explore seriously.

Another important advantage mentioned is to encourage interaction among classmates, including shy students. Again I believe the teacher’s role is crucial, as teenagers in some cultures may be reluctant to express their opinions on their classmates’ work: they may feel it affects their marks or the teacher’s perceptions on it.

A serious disadvantage is the difficulty to correct mentioned by Stanley. I feel – though I have no real experience of  it – that wikis may be more suitable for that purpose. On the other hand, if we are aiming for fluency, a learner blog  may be exceptional, and encourage responses to content rather than linguistic accuracy.

As regards photos, I suppose we should be extremely cautious with underage students.  I have found the following recommendations by Claudia Ceraso extremely useful.

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6 Responses to “Collaborative writing (Week Three)”

  1. Dear Mariel,

    Blogging can be an exceptional tool for fluency, motivation, meaningful conversations. However, as I always point out, it’s a matter of habit. It takes time to master some blogging skills, to find your voice, your tone. I agree with you that the teacher has a fundamental role to keep blogging going, mainly in the beginning. I think what makes the difference is when you blog with your heart, with passion and you can encourage your students to choose their own topics of interest, the interconnection among peers. Here’s a blog post I wrote some months ago.
    http://collablogatorium.blogspot.com/2008/11/edublogging-with-passion.html

    Blogs and wikis can certainly enhance collaborative writing, but they have different approaches. It would be great if you could give it a try to both and then see for yourself their best uses. I’d say that one complements the other.

  2. mamez said

    Thank you so much, Carla, for your comment. I honestly had no idea you were in this group when I commented on your article.

    I have checked out the post you mentioned and I have found it truly inspirational. I always say that passion is what makes the difference in teaching, but you have taken this to a new dimension.

    I suspect my problem is not with blogging itself but with teaching. I have been teaching exam courses (FCE and CPE) for almost 15 years, which roughly means I have been training rather than teaching. Thank you for your words, and your expertise! I really want to try new ways!

  3. No, Mariel, I’m not in the group, but I’ve set up “Google Alerts” on some topics of my interest. That’s why I found your post. RSS works wonderfully well! I totally sympathize with you. Blogging means a paradigm shift on the way we teach, and it also implies change in the way students learn. I’m sure you’ll do wonders with your enthusiasm and willingness to dare. I’m here if you need any help, though I’m no expert. We’re always learning!

  4. Nadia said

    Hi Mariel,

    I am a member of the Collaborative writing group and it seems to me that we are in a similar position. I haven’t been using blogs so far in my teaching but having read more about it (the articles by Carla Arena, Graham Stanley, etc) I am getting more and more assured that this can be a great tool, particularly in raising the levels of motivation in students, developing fluency and encouraging the shy students to express their thoughts and opinion. Since I haven’t got any experience yet, I can’t say much but I do hope I will be able to explore this tool with my classes. With regard to your concern about the younger students and their photos I think it is always good to follow the recommendations of those who are experts in the field.
    Wish you all the best with your blogging!

  5. Berta said

    Hi Mariel,
    I have read your interesting post as well as the responses to and from Carla and Nadia.
    Sure blogging takes time but it is addictive to both students and teachers when they see its objectives and there is interesting information to read and write about. As Carla mentioned, It needs to become a habit and once you acquire it, it is very difficult for you to be in a course without the use of at least a class blog, a wiki or any other online tool where the course community can keep in touch off class hours.
    Although it took me a while to apply what I had learned in EVO sessions because most of my courses throughout the academic year at my university are mostly on reading comprehension of scientific and technical texts in English to Freshman students, now I cannot live without a class blog, especially in our country where anything can happen any day, any time, and students need to be informed about what we should do in specific situations. I also teach EFL writing once in a while (mostly in a wiki) and graduate courses on theory and methods of ESL teaching and learning.
    I am sure you will become used to blogging very soon and will see all the potential it holds for language students.
    Cariños, Berta in Caracas

  6. mamez said

    Thanks, Berta. I have visited your wiki, as I mentioned on the Collaborative Writing blog. I have found inspiration in your work.

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