Educators who work with ESL students often look for creative solutions forintegrating interdisciplinary learning objectives. Blogging can be a great educational tool to help students reach technology and language arts learning goals at once. There are a number of creative ways students and teachers can use blogs, here are a few suggestions for blogging with the ESL learner.
1. Blogging for Increased Student Participation
Often an ESL learner who is quiet in class will be more than willing to respond to a topic in a blog. If you are planning to assign a blog post as homework, be sure you have met together in the library or computer lab so that you are sure everyone knows the process. Remember that not all ESL learners are going to have Internet or even computer access at home so when possible give them time at school to complete the assignment. At first keep the expectations simple and have them do easy things like:
- Respond to a simple question from something you are reading as a class.
- Give two examples of sentences that use a grammar rule you recently taught.
- Write an imaginary grocery list or a Saturday “to do” list of a favourite character from a novel you are reading as a group.
- List the pro and cons of their last summer job.
- Make a menu for a virtual dinner party with a theme from a novel.
- Share a humorous experience.
2. Blogging with a Creative Twist
Once students are more comfortable with the process, you can make the blogging process more involved and perpetual. For instance you can:
- Assign each student a character in a book or play and have the student post a short blog each week from the character’s perspective including details from the book
- Assist the students in the creation of a group blog about things they wish a non-ESL student would understand; students could work in pairs and take turns posting. Representatives from your non-ESL classes could respond.
- Begin a blog about a hobby or passion of yours and have students respond to your blog and make individual blogs of their own related to their own unique hobbies and interests.
- Create a blog about a local interest story, community or environmental issues, or other current event topic and have each student respond to a different aspect of the issue.
3. Blogging for Community Connections
Many blogs are full of gorgeous travel pictures or incredible poetry, wonderful cuisine discussions, or brilliant art. You can have your students identify a blog they think a class member would like and then introduce the classmate to the blog on your class blog site. This builds peer connections and brings more ideas into your classroom blog site. Other ways to spice up your class blog site include:
- Posting an interview a student has done with a local personality.
- Inviting a guest blogger from a minority-owned business to post about his or her own educational journey.
- If many of your students are from the same country you can invite a guest blogger from another blog site from the same geographic region (maybe a foodie, or photographer, or writer) to write something inspirational to your students.
- Identifying a former student who can be a guest blogger can be a good way to get students interacting in a blog through asking questions
- Using the blog to interactively plan a class trip and discuss the options for activities and places to eat.
4. Conclusion and Resources
Many great blogs exist for teachers, and in recent years a great assortment of ESL blogs has added to the rich experience of blogging with students. Whether your blog is a simple or more complex, there are many wonderful ESL blogs available such as those found at http://www.onlinedegrees.org/top-25-esl-blogs-for-teachers-and-students/. A blog should express your class’s unique vibe and interests. Getting students involved in blogging is an effective way to build language skills, initiate and model positive peer interactions, and build more proficient technology skills while having fun. So what are you waiting for – start blogging!
Karen is a writer and educator interested in finding and sharing information relating to the education world. Her hobbies include running and photography. You can connect to her on Twitter @Karen_Lederer.