Guest Blog Post: A Blogging Adventure

Amanda Villagómez is a 6th-8th grade language arts teacher at a dual immersion school in Ontario, Oregon. She blogs about her teaching and learning at Snapshots of Mrs. V. Her current areas of interest include workshops, technology, and biliteracy.

I am gearing up to blog with my 8th graders this fall, a venture I am excited about after only having a class blog last year where students left comments, rather than writing their own posts. The journey to deciding to blog has been closely influenced by my explorations with writing workshop.

Authentic Writing:

Many of the workshop resources talk about authenticity and teachers having students doing “real” writing or writing that we would do outside of school in our own lives versus writing that we just do because we have to for an assignment. When I think about my own blogging life, there is variety, including book reviews, slice of life stories, and reflections. In under a year after my sister got me started with Blogger, I had branched off from having one blog to having three to fit different audiences and purposes. For me, blogging definitely fit the bill of authentic writing I do for pleasure.

Social Aspects:

I began to reflect about what I love so much about blogging. When it comes down to it, much of the blogging that I do are writing styles that I previously wrote in a private manner. For example, slice of life stories are often similar to journal entries, book reviews/responses can be compared to a document I started to jot down notes about books to later refresh my memory when sharing reading ideas with students, and reflections of my learning are like my previous teaching reflections. Yet, there was one key difference – audience.

With comments I became more aware of my audience and I started to think about my own purposes with blogging, making me consider more about writing craft and revising my thoughts more. The awareness of an expanded audience made that shift between journal entry (more like free-writing) and slice of life story (with focus and revisions). That same shift happened with my other forms of writing on the blog. I had an authentic purpose to make sure that I was conveying my thoughts in a manner that is clear and organized.

I remember Ruth and Stacey mentioning before that comments fuel writers. It immediately resonated with my experience of the joy that comes with seeing a new comment. This made me think about how that would translate into the classroom by opening up students’ sense of audience. With blogging they will receive more feedback than I alone can provide.

Developing a life-long passion for writing and feeling a sense of motivation to write are at the heart of why I will be blogging with my students this fall. I have hopes that having an avenue to share their writing inside and outside of class might serve as a scaffold to continue writing for pleasure when they are in high school, a time when many middle school workshop teachers say returning students comment that they no longer have time to read and write for pleasure.

I will continue to post on my blog about how I plan to utilize individual student blogs in my classroom to spark students’ passion for writing and make sure that the writing feels purposeful and authentic, as well as how it actually works out throughout the school year. I am excited to share a genre of writing with my students that I regularly use for pleasure.