Will Richardson (2010) calls the writing genre of blogs “connective writing”, but I think “interactive writing” would be an even more appropriate name for it. This term was initially introduced by Stan Swartz about twelve years ago, and every primary grade teacher knows that this method involves thinking out loud about writing and physically sharing the pen with students while completing a writing task. If you ask me, it does not seem like much interaction today. Blogs are so much more! They demand interactive reading, thinking, writing, sharing, editing, revising, and rethinking. On top, you do not share the pen with the teacher or peers – you own it! Blogging is the magic pen that allows writers to reach a real audience and, if well thought-out and written, trigger their responses.
Reading and writing a blog requires critical thinking. Just like any type of reading, reading blogs “expands the walls of the classroom” (Richardson, 2010, p. 27) and allows readers to become experts on a specific topic. Blogs, however, speed up the process of locating information by linking readers to other professionals, experts, and online resources. They bring in images, music, or videos to support the interest and style of any learner. A blog may look short, but it expands to abundance of information which readers can explore for hours! For example, the 7 Key Ingredients in the Successful 21st Century
Classroom post by Vicki Davis is full of links to resources which keeps readers actively engaged. I spent a long time learning about each of the keys from the links available in her post, not to mention the links in the linked sites!
Writing in general is a process of sharing our thinking. As reading triggers thinking, writing helps analyze, synthesize, and evaluate it. In this way, writing and blogging are the same. The social aspect of blogging, however, immediately connects writers with a real audience. Because of that, the style in which blogs are written is more conversational and, as Richardson says, “demands interaction” (2010, p.18). The word choice, tone, and sentence structures of writing a blog provoke readers to respond: agree, disagree, clarify information, share own experiences, or ask questions. Commenting is the pulse of blogging. Take a look at the 10 Reasons to Trash Word for Google Docs post to see how the topic turns into a discussion board that widens readers’ views about it and compiles the diversity of people’s perspectives in one place. Blog writers must learn to “write with an ear for readership” (Richardson, 2010, p.32) and facilitate a conversation online.
As a new literacy, blogging is a perfect platform to teach and learn reading and writing skills today. Student should be able to learn how to access, “weed out” a flood of information online by evaluating its relevance and accuracy, and then deliver their product in a form of a carefully edited, audience-oriented writing piece. Moreover, the work of the author does not stop with a click of the “publish” button. Contrary, it’s just the beginning of a conversation and critical thinking. With a real audience, writers are obliged to clarify and question own thoughts and communicate them to readers on an ongoing basis. Blog writers must work hard to bring their audience back to the posts and keep them interested. I think Bill Ferriter does an incredible job explaining how blogging becomes a key to learning new literacy skills in schools. To prepare students for their future, we must “graduate” them from writing journal entries and fiction stories in marble composition books to being critical readers and connected writers of the real world.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. California: Corwin A SAGE Company.