While reading Troy Hicks’ Crafting Digital Writing (2013), I couldn’t help but to reflect on how the ideas expressed in the book apply to my current teaching context, an elementary technology coach (grades kindergarten through fifth grade). I specifically zoned in on Hicks’ section on prewriting and drafting web texts (Hicks, 2013, pp. 37-39). While Hicks makes many excellent points, I have to stop and take a few steps back to relate the ideas to the younger students I serve. Our teachers teach with a workshop approach so his ideas of using the writing process go hand-in-hand with our teachers’ pedagogy. I strongly believe in the use of mentor texts in the writing workshop and have often encouraged teachers to do the same with online blogs.
I have worked with several teachers over the past few weeks to set up blogs for their students. While Hicks encourages formatting fonts and embedding widgets and videos, I do believe at the elementary level many lessons must revolve around the prewriting and drafting stage for many weeks before the student even starts to blog online. As many teachers of younger children know, the formatting of the blog is the first thing a young child will start to work on rather than working on the content of the posts. I love how one second grade teacher started her students blogging by telling stories orally. Next, they moved to writing down these small moment stories on paper complete with illustrations. Finally the students used Post-it notes to comment on each child’s writing or to comment on someone else’s comments. They practiced for many class periods on what makes a good comment. The result was a well-thought out blog post with comments...on paper. The students then repeated this process online. While slowing down this process, the elementary student is able to reflect on the concept of MAPS (mode, media, audience, purpose, and situation) and how it relates to their post (Hicks, 2009). Who is reading my piece? Why am I writing this? What do I hope my audience gets out of reading my writing?
I also believe students should be continually cycling through the writing process while writing their blogs. I really liked how one third grade teacher used a checklist for the students to refer to while creating their blogs.
More information...Below is a video about how one fourth grade teacher started blogging with her class. I love how they interviewed each other about what their classmates find interesting.
Blog video created by Genevieve Pacada.