Last year I began a project in which I ask students to keep a blog for reader response in my AP English Literature classroom. This has been a learning process for sure, and I’ve been tweaking the experience and the expectations along the way.
One practice I knew that I wanted to emphasize this year is the practice of students reading and commenting on each others’ posts.
One inherent challenge to this practice was the fact that the technology we are using does not allow me to see which students have commented on which posts without clicking on each individual blog post.
To circumvent this challenge, this year I decided to ask my students to create a link post. This would ensure that students were reading each others’ blogs and would also teach them a popular text structure of blogging.
I asked students to do the following:
- Spend some time reading classmates’ blogs. This part should actually be the most time-consuming part of the process: discovering which other blog posts they really enjoyed.
- Each student should choose at least five specific blog posts that he or she especially enjoyed reading and would recommend to others.
- Create a new post on his or her own blog that will link to these five other posts.
- For each recommended post, the student should include the title of the blog post with a hyperlink to that post and then a short explanation of why he or she would recommend that particular post.
The writing of the post was fairly simple, but it did help create more interaction on the blogs. As an unanticipated plus, this link post also allowed me to demonstrate and teach the skill of creating hyperlinks, a skill that I realized some students didn’t have.
Here are a few screenshots of great examples of what students can do:
I’m feeling great about their blogs so far this year. I have definitely learned much from this experiment, but I’m constantly amazed by the improved quality of their writing.