I presented at Laurel School District’s Tech Camp recently and an issue was brought to my attention…I was bashing writing, or at least my desire to grade student writing. I didn’t mean to come across that way, but after further review…I was. I do not push too many formal writing projects in my class. Students use the writing process in my class and with all projects, I just do not have them turn term papers.
I need to make an adjustment, and it will happen now. All of my students will now blog as part of their class grade for my courses. Not all of my classes will have to blog on a regular basis, some may be once a nine weeks with the option to post more often for alternate assignments. In the past, I encouraged students to blog for enrichment assignments, but I had few takers. This new system should change the lack of participation, although educators know there are often students who do not turn in assignments or make up tests they miss.
The blogs will vary in length and purpose, but will be graded on a rubric that includes grammar, spelling, and other areas of literary importance, along with being on the topic of the assignment. The most important aspect of the assignments, is that they will be posted publicly. In retrospect, my issue with the writing assignments of yore was that students wrote for a specific length, based on words or pages, then discarded once graded. Students would toss them out, toss them in the hallways or stairwells, lose them in their lockers, etc. There was no purpose outside of a grade, or practice for the PSSA, at least in the students’ minds. No matter how much I emphasized the purpose of the assignment and the importance of learning the subject, the students were only concerned with the final grade. Now, their work will have a purpose beyond a grade, it will be published for eternity on the Internet. They are all set up as contributors, so I will have the ability to keep work private until approved. I will write more about this reasoning shortly.
For now, all that counts is that I found a problem and I believe I have addressed it for the better.