Here’s my new brainchild–Blogology.
It’s an activity in getting students to buy into reading and then responding to that reading weekly and, in some cases, daily. I won’t fool myself into believing I’m the only educator who has thought of this, but when the idea struck me it felt like a true ah-ha moment. It was one of those moments where you feel like an answer has been under your nose the entire time but hidden just enough from view that you couldn’t see it.
I defined blogology for my students as the process of studying blogs, their writing, and media usage. In a nutshell, I’m allowing students to choose a blog of their interest (with guidelines and examples) and asking them to follow the blog faithfully for twelve full weeks. At the minimum, students are to read at least one post during the week and follow the reading up with a reflective post about what they’ve read. I’m using Google Docs to keep up with their own postings. They all have set up a document and shared it with me. They have until Sunday at midnight to give a thoughtful response to their reading each week, and I check the postings every four weeks to assess their progress and provide them with a formative grade. Admittedly, the process at its start can be cumbersome as students forget how to access their documents, don’t read instructions, or can’t settle on a blog; but after about a week of working the kinks out, students are going full steam ahead, reading outside of class, writing outside of class, and actually enjoying what they’re reading and writing about! Novel, right?!
I won’t know the extent to which this assignment is successful until after the twelve weeks are over, but I have a strong inkling that this will be one of my more successful efforts at independent reading. I also like that this causes students to be more aware of what is being written and shared on the internet. If all goes well, second semester we’ll take this activity to the next level and begin developing critical responses to the posts they read. The vision is to give students honest autonomy to critique, assess, praise, or condemn what they read using not only their sole opinion, but their knowledge of what they’ve been reading.
I’ll give a status update in a few weeks.
Here’s to reading outside the confines of what we label school. Cheers!