Bud Hunt asks the question like this: “How do I work Youth Voices [a school-based social network of 1000 student bloggers] into my daily curriculum? How do I use it either to replace existing writing or to support the writing instruction that I want to do?”
Like many of us, Bud is convinced that he has the tools he needs (Elgg is just one example.) to bring blogging and social networking into into the center of his writing, reading and research curricula. Teachers like Bud have learned that students who are asked to blog weekly (or thereabouts) about issues and topics of their own choosing achieve and go beyond the goals we have for them when we teach writing in more traditional ways. (If you’re not yet one of the “convinced,” please take a look at our students work on Youth Voices.Perhaps you’ll find evidence that supports our convictions. Also checkout what the students themselves say when they write in our “How am I doing?” community blog.)
The problem is, how do we make it work? Although each teacher has a unique situation, many of us face constraints that are similar to the ones Bud points to when he asks, “How do I fit Elgg into my language arts curriculum? More specifically, how do I do so in neat, nine-week chunks? (My courses are all on the quarter system.)”
Bud sums up with these kind words: “I love, love, love what y’all are doing with YouthVoices. I want my students to be involved in a strong writing community — I just don’t know how to practically do so. ”
Many teachers find themselves, like Bud, on the brink of using student-centered (because the topics come from each individual student) blogging. And perhaps it’s not too bold for those of us who have been involved in creating Youth Voices–a community of practice for high school bloggers–to say that we can show that this kind of blogging both engages students and helps them to reach toward higher and higher standards of writing and multimedia communication. We are ready to encourage those of you on the edge to find ways to solve your very real logistical problems. It’s worth it.