George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Young boy in front of computer

Blogging is a very powerful tool in and of itself. Whether it's a personal or professional blog, blogging has the power to unleash learning, reflection, and communication. Even more, a blog can help spread your words and ideas to a wider audience and, as a result, a wider reach.

Blogging for English-language learners (ELLs) can tap into students' and teachers' utmost communicative potential and help expand and widen learning opportunities.

Benefits of Blogging

It's important for the teacher to discuss the benefit of blogging with her or his students, as this will inform how they learn through it. When students understand the benefits of the process, they become engaged and active in their own learning. Teachers should explain how blogging. . .

  • Provides an opportunity for reflection by students and their teacher
  • Opens up student writing to a wider audience
  • Provides an opportunity to practice writing and communication skills
  • Builds a learning support community
  • Empowers student voice
  • Provides a platform for peer feedback
  • Motivates and engages students in higher-level communicative learning

Visual note showing content suggestions, activities, benefits, and learning opportunities
(Click image to enlarge.)

How to Start Blogging in ELL Classrooms

It's probably best to start planning on incorporating blogging in your classroom sometime before the term begins. In this way, the process of integrating it into your schedule becomes less overwhelming, and much more manageable. The benefits for the teacher and students will always outweigh the bit of planning needed to start.

There are several ways to use blogging in your classroom:

Blogging for Students

A student blog can have many purposes in an ELL classroom:

  • Discussions
  • Responses
  • Reflections
  • Sharing images, links, and resources
  • Vocabulary and grammar activities
  • Paragraph writing
  • Commentary
  • Storytelling

These are just a few examples of what students can do with blogging. There are some great platforms for student blogs, such as Kidblog, Edublogs, Blogger, and even Write About, which is a publishing platform that allows groups (or classes) to post publicly and privately. To choose the right platform for you and your students, set aside some time to experience and create your own "example" blog. This example blog will not go to waste, because you'll use it to share with your students when introducing them to blogging.

How often should students blog?
This can be determined by the teacher and students as they see fit within the learning outcomes they're trying to accomplish. However, blogging consistently about the course discussions, materials, and content will allow students to delve into a deeper self-reflective process. They'll be able to trace their learning through their blogs and may be able to use them as studying material. Many students will end up using their blogs after the course or term has ended, and likely will maintain the same level of professionalism to build their digital identity.

How can peers and teachers provide feedback?
Feedback is an essential part of blogging. Since blogging is a very reflective process, students will need to stay engaged. The feedback provided by their peers or the teacher can be very valuable in providing this type of reflective engagement throughout the learning process. When ELL students work on peer feedback, there are several areas on which they can focus:

  • Share one positive thing about the post.
  • Share one thing their peers can work on or improve.
  • Share a personal story that relates to the blog post.

For teachers, it's best to give constructive criticism on students blogs privately. That way, the conversation does not hinder the student's writing and thought process. By focusing on only the positive comments that a student receives on his or her blog post, the teacher can encourage and motivate that student to continue blogging and publicly sharing thoughts.

Blogging for Classrooms

A classroom blog is also a great idea for most classes. In ELL classes, however, a classroom blog can help with:

  • Clarifications
  • Understanding
  • Communication
  • Language development
  • Parent-student engagement

What should an ELL classroom blog include?
To decide on the content of a classroom blog, a teacher can use this as a fun collaborative activity and have students brainstorm together to determine their needs. This not only motivates them to take initiative in creating the blog and its content, but it also allows them to own their own learning. When ELL students feel comfortable and in control of lesson tasks, their communication improves as a result of practice.

Here are some content suggestions:

  • Information about class, assignments, daily routine, tasks, etc.
  • Discussion and comments forum
  • Class photos and videos
  • Photos and videos of resources related to classwork
  • Interesting articles and stories
  • Vocabulary lists
  • Links to resources, games, and fun ways to learn English
  • Cultural stories written by students

The possibilities are really endless when it comes to classroom blog content. The key is personalizing it with the students to meet their communicative and learning needs.

Resources for Getting Started

Please take a look at my slideshare about blogging for English-language learners.

Below are some examples of classroom blogs:

Have your ELL students blogged? Please share your results and impressions in the comments section.

Was this useful? (4)

Comments (39) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Emily Elliott's picture

This post has inspired me to dust off my professional musician blog and start writing again. Blogging has been beneficial for me in the past and I can only imagine how much it would benefit my music students. Writing a blog post can be less stressful than sharing a reflection paper and you have more options for expression when you add graphics and layout to your text. I know my blogging has made me a better writer. It has taught me how to write with structure and make my word choices count.

http://elliottmusicstudio.blogspot.com

Amanda Conrade's picture

I have had the experience of making a personal professional page, but have always entertained the idea of a classroom blog to keep students and parents in the loop. I enjoy some of the suggestions for ways to make a more content-filled classroom blog. I could see myself creating a classroom blog filled with supplemental materials for students who may need the information in another format or just need it as a reference. As far as student blogs go; this is a neat way to provide students with a real world application of respectful reflection and critical thinking. Blogging also would help teach the students how to properly and effectively use the Internet while the assignment still has meaning and applies to their learning.

emgutierrez's picture

Blogging could be the new way that educators have students keep journals. I think that blogging would be very beneficial for all students because it allows them to practice their writing. With blogs, it could be easier for educators to monitor what their students are writing about and how their writing skills are improving.

Reece Loridon's picture

I love the idea of blogging in a classroom. I personally have used sites like edmodo and it has created deeper conversations in the classrooms. Blogging is also a great way for students especially english language learners to practice vocabulary and practice grammar and syntax.

Nmadison's picture

This is awesome. Blogs are a great way for students to share ideas and complete assignments. Blogging is also a way to inform families and students of assignments, upcoming events, and corrections without sending home lots of handouts that get misplaced or not even to parents. Setting this up before the school year starts would be smart, that way parents can know the expectation of the classroom blog.

mestephens's picture

I'm not a teacher yet, so I don't have first-hand experiences implementing blogging in my classroom, but it seems like a very useful tool! For ELL students I really enjoy the story telling/cultural experience story idea. I feel like it would be a good outlet for them to not only express themselves but also it could help the teacher gauge progress through writing samples as well. I will probably use that idea in my general classroom from time to time for the same reason.

Brielle's picture

I like this article because it not only shows the benefits and how-to's of creating a classroom blog, but it also shows how to provide feedback on the blog. As a future educator, sometimes the hardest thing to decide is how you are going to evaluate a project like this one. I like the peer responsibility of giving feedback and appreciate how they mentioned that feedback from the teacher should be done privately.

Hannah Tolliver's picture

I think blogs are a great use of the classroom. I love how the blog talks about explaining why blogs are useful so that students understand the benefits that come out of using blogs. I also agree with the part that talks about how teachers shouldn't put their critiques of the student's work publicly on the blog, but rather privately discuss things the student could work on and just leave positive comments on the blog. But, as for the students I think it is a cool idea that they leave one positive comment, one improvement, and then a personal connection to the post. Overall, I think blogs are an awesome use in the classroom.

Haley Roberts's picture

I think ELL students could gain a great deal of confidence by blogging. It would be good for those students to see how their words can and will spark up a discussion with their peers. Writing in blog form is advantageous for those that still need quite a bit of processing time to decide how they want to say something. Blogging allows the students to spend more time thinking about how they want to say something and they can then be proud of what they have produced. It is hard for native English speakers to think on the spot during class discussions, so of course it is also a challenge for non-English speakers. I think blogs would be an excellent addition to just about any classroom.

Maddy McGlade's picture

I love the idea of blogging for all students! Especially for ELL students, as they can take their time and focus on what they want to say. There is no time pressure, they can ensure that they are getting their wording correct and edit as necessary. Blogging is a great way for all students to think about something and share their ideas, then read what their peers had to say. It opens up great discussions, and is a fun, modern way to do school related work.

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