“The craft demands that we write and write and write some more.”–Lamont Steptoe
Newly “techie” (but not yet as technical as I dream I’d be), I have recently decided to take advantage of the internet, and discover what new forms of scholarship the net is evolving. Naturally, I want my students along for the ride. One semester, we turned the tables on chat and made it worthwhile. I know “chat” and “worthwhile” do not often mix, but hear me out.
On Facebook one semester, we managed to talk about literature, poetry, for instance on the Department of English group page, without missing a single status update from a friend. I find that my students can get really creative in using social media for just about anything–poetry comes with pictures hatched in jpeg, and their own poems came dressed up in a Photoshop shop!
Another semester my students took another look at a well-loved and popular poem “Desiderata” and through collective effort produced an updated and translated version of it, in real time. We felt time spent on FB was just what mom and dad ordered.
Here’s a sample student blog:
Similar to keeping an “offline” journal, on-line journal writing “primes the pump” and, especially if done on a daily basis, keeps the gush of ideas flowing. The hand, or as the case of an online journal, the keys on a computer become the conduit for creative ruminations that gets continuously modified before and even after posting. Because the act of writing is associated with what students now cannot live without–the internet, Facebook and blogs, it is not anymore a source of pain, but of fun. (Or so I hope!) Journal writing prepares students for longer, and more serious, writing. “Journal writing, along with other forms of writing”, according to noted educators Palmer, Hafner and Sharp, “helps students develop their abilities as thinkers; that is, they practice analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating as they construct meaning while writing” (Perry 59).
Keeping a blog gets my students acquainted with their own voice, create a style all their own–shall I be funny, self-effacing, formal?–and develop self-confidence along the way, where their writing is concerned. Because they feel no censure and are not criticized, (and in WordPress comments are “moderated” which means silly and embarrassing comments do not appear on the comment feed without one’s approval) writing becomes a conscious wonderful habit whose benefits accrue over time. Confidence boost comes in the form of likes, follows, tweets, and screen shots of the blog can become FB cover photos. I also make sure they know I read their blog, and offer suggestions along the way.
There will be raised eyebrows, I’m sure, and not everyone will instantly warm up to the idea, but as long as my educational goals are being met, and in a stress-free environment at that, I will always think spending time on the net blogging is time well spent.
On to the next post!
Perry, Aaren Yeatts. “Journal Writing.” Poetry Across the Curriculum. MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1997. 59-60.)