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

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.

Steph Cardona's picture

I think blogging is a great tool for not only ELL students, but for a class as a whole. I think it has a lot of advantages for students and gets them actively involved. Being able to track their progress through the use of a blog as well as see visuals and helpful reminders, assists students in their learning. I like the idea that this can be a place for ELL students to feel comfortable; and when this happens you can see their learning and communication skills improve.

kevindean's picture

I think blogging gives ELL students the ability to learn from their peers and interact with them. By doing so they improve their communication skills and at a young age it's important ti build on that skill for once they are older. This is also different from the traditional classroom and I like how it can be a useful asset for students to use.

hannah's picture

In your blog post, you suggested that students comment to other students' posts by sharing one positive thing, one thing to work on, and a personal story. I love this strategy for having students interact with each other on the blogs and therefore, want to evaluate your blog and idea using the strategy. One thing that I think is great about using blogs in an ELL classroom is that it can improve students' reading and writing skills as they are acquiring the language. Something I think you could consider for your idea is that depending on the students' levels of acquisition, they might not be ready for a blog yet. Finally, a personal story to go along with your strategy is that I had to write blog posts for one of my English classes before. Although it was not an ELL classroom, blogging still provided a fun way to learn and communicate with each other.

Megan Porche's picture

I love the idea of blogging in class, especially with ELL students. I think it's a great opportunity for students to share their voice and get positive feedback from their peers and teachers. Not only does blogging help increase their reading and writing skills, the students are able to see how they improve over time.

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Morgan Roth's picture

This is a very interesting concept and ideas. Personally, I have never thought about using blogs in my classrooms other than general class discussions. Much less to the use of ELL in my classroom. Thank you for this post, I will most surely use it and the methods to which it can be applied in my classroom and with ELL students!

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Emma Byrd's picture

Rusul Alrubail, I would love to hear your thoughts on storify and whether or not you think it could have similar benefits to its use. I took a media writing course where we had to use Twitter, blogging, Storify, etc and I really liked the visuals of Storify in particular. If you haven't heard of it before, with Storify you can tell a story not only with text but also with gifs, quotes off of Twitter, Facebook posts, etc pulling from so many different sources on the internet. I left my account below as an example. I would love to hear any comments you have on possibly using Storify for ELLs.

https://storify.com/EmmaMByrd

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Hi Emma, I used to use Storify to curate some of the twitter chats I helped to moderate. It was a good too, but there's another one that I use now specifically for that purpose called Participate. It's a lot faster to curate chats. I haven't thought of using it as a tool to curate images and other media for teaching but that certainly sounds like a great idea. I checked out your page, it looks fabulous!

Jennifer Flowers's picture

I love the idea of blogging for ELL students, as well as our students with special needs. I think it provides more practice at a twenty-first century skill that will become more and more the way in which future students communicate at school and in life. This article gives great advice in terms of establishing with ELL students the purpose in using blogging as a means of written expression and being aware of the purpose behind academics is always something I strive to do as an Educational Therapist (ET) when working with my clients. I think a way I might expand this project is by having students start with a pre-write graphic organizer in order to help support their ability to write what they mean to say. I think pre-writing and drafting feedback (from teachers and peers if in a classroom setting) would be helpful for student bloggers, especially because their final expression would be available in a more public realm. Another advantage of blogging is that it could also serve as an easily accessible catalog for my clients and their parents at any moment to measure writing progress.

Nancy Lin's picture

Blogging in English is a great practice for ESL students to improve their writing skills and level of language in general. I used to work in Chennai City as an ESL teacher. I tried different methodic in my teaching practice and blogging was among them. I was giving them different topics to tell about ( from elementary like Tell About Your Family to complicated issues in economics, it depended on the level of language). They all had their Medium (https://medium.com/) accounts where they were posting their blog posts. They were engaged so much with these tasks, especially when it came to interesting provocative topics. I always checked their posts for plagiarism in Unicheck (https://unicheck.com/) cause there were lots of students who were simply copying someone else's posts from the net. I was giving my comments and correct mistakes in comments. One of my students wrote such a cool post that he scored 1000 applauds! This caused his enthusiasm and motivation in others! It was a wonderful practice and all of them were improving their writing skills, but you always should watch out so that they do not plagiarize content from other sites and check it for plagiarism.

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