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Friday, August 7, 2015

Inspiring Young Readers and Writers With Blogs

This is a guest post by Aaron Smith. 

I’ve been in education two decades and over my tenure as an educator, there have been some phenomenal things that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. One thing that I saw was a 6th grade English teacher using blogs to help her students learn about reading comprehension and the writing process. When I sat down to do an observation in her class, I was amazed at how much interaction there was between the classes and as I wrapped up the observation I asked her if the homework was just as effective as the classroom. Her response was enthusiastically “yes!” 

Later that afternoon we sat down for a post-conference regarding the observation. I asked her to share with me her secrets and she told me the following:

• First get students to begin looking at blogs that seem interesting to them. It should be a blog that is accurate in content, and the author should be a professional in the field in which they are writing the blog. In addition, students should make sure that the content is appropriate for their age (i.e. no sex, alcohol, drug references) and have them begin to follow the blog on a regular basis. Upon doing so, the students should begin to contribute as a follower while being sure to type the comments correctly. (Side note – at this point they were working on sentence structure and grammar).

• From here the teacher would have the students report back via a homework assignment in which they had to summarize each week's new topics or follow-up comments from other followers.

• Then the teacher created her own blog and invited students to follow her and comment. She began the year creating the blog site and posts which contained the guidelines and criteria so that there was no misunderstanding of how it could be used into their English classes. After a couple of weeks, things were going great but she noticed that the kids began to ask her if they could be a “guest blogger” and the reluctantly she said yes.  To her surprise, the kids quickly caught on and exceeded her expectations.  She didn’t necessarily pick the best students, but picked the ones with the most interesting topics that matched where she was in the curriculum.

What she noticed was inspirational. Not only was the homework reaching high levels of participation, but the quality of work increased throughout the year. There were fewer D’s and F’s as a result of this innovative approach.

It’s things like this that our children need in education. They need to be inspired in a way that is meaningful to them and more importantly allows them to create ownership in their education. My challenge to you is to help all of our children reach this level of excitement. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, business partner, or community leader, we all play a critical role in making this happen and I urge you to begin now.





Dr. Aaron Smith is the program director at Aviation Academy which is a pioneer in STEM Education.  He has written a book called Awakening Your STEM School that provides readers with a blueprint on how to transform their magnet program into an elite STEM site.  It has 44 ideas and actions with more than 300 tips for success for educators, parents, community leaders and business partners. Awakening Your STEM School  is now available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. For more information on Dr. Smith or if you would like to sign up for his blog, go to http://www.stemschooldr.com.