Wikis, blogs, social networks and a whole lot more Web 2.0 tools are the most exciting thing to happen to education since public schools.Kids love them. They’re drawn in, want to get involved, thirst to share their thoughts. Here’s the interesting part to us teachers: If students want anyone to read what they write, they have to do it correctly–and they’re willing to make this effort for a blog.
That’s right. There are rules to follow. You’d think people would tire of posting to oblivion. No readers. No comments. They’d give up and try something new. But they don’t. They buckle down and try to follow the unique rules inherent in blogs and wikis that, if followed, will draw readers. The effort is worth the reward, which seems to be the joy of gaining a following (it sure isn’t the money).
Check out One Cool Site by Timethief. She has post after post of suggestions for increasing the popularing of your blog. It covers mundane, ancient topics like grammar, pithiness of content, exciting headlines. Then scoot over to Problogger for more on the right way to write blogs (different ideas, same message).
As a teacher, I originally thought blogs (and social networks for that matter) were way too modern for rules. Look at texting. It’s developed an entire neologistic vocabulary, complete with spelling and new letters (i.e., emoticons). Boy was I wrong. My blog didn’t get read until I checked it for:
- pithy content
- correct spelling and grammar
- appeal to my readers (a great lesson for students–make sure your voice fits your audience)
- interaction with readers via questions in the blog and answering comments when there were any
- the three paragraph structure (just like students learn in school): first to attract search engines with a scintillating synopsis, second to appeal to my audience, third to tie everything down to a conclusion (and maybe leave them wanting more)
- mistakes, redundancies, flow by proof reading. I had to verify point of view, confirm facts–just like when students write an essay or story
So get over it parents. These Web 2.0 tools are not going away, which is a good thing. They’re student-centered and pithy. They sneak in volumes of lessons on good writing, and are full of the five-second info kids love.