What's a blog? Many different written genres and multimedia can be supported in classroom weblogs. In this article we describe different blog genres that we use with our students, and we provide links to student examples for each. We also explain a bit of how and why we use blogs with our high school students. This article is an ever-expanding compendium of our thinking and our practice of teaching with a weblog.

Project Plan Edit

Understanding by Design Edit

Word ^: Using a Weblog for Every Stage of the Composing Process

Notes toward thick description Edit

Spring 2003 Edit

2003-04 Edit

2004-05 Edit

  • Beginning in Fall of that year, with support from a Region 9, New York State Technology Grant, Paul has been able to dedicate more of his time to support Kiran and Sarvenaz in their use of a weblog for students, East Side Bloggers 2008. Most of the links you find below will take you into this weblog.

ReadingBlog Reading Blogs Edit

Structured Responses alongside Independent Reading Edit

Reading Blogs are are usually structured responses that students write as they are reading books that they have chosen for independent reading. Students summarize sections of their books and express their thoughts and feelings by completing Sentence Starters provided by (and periodically refreshed by) their teachers. Students are also encouraged to go beyond and to change the Blog Starters to fit their needs as writers.

Here are several examples:

Sentence Starters Edit

Please keep in mind that a Reading Blog is typically based on Sentence Starters, is not revised, and is only lightly proofread. Although the starter sentences give the Reading Blogs a more formal (even conventional) structure, the writing is often closer to what you might find in a private reading journal, not a published review.

Language Edit

  • How might it be different as a writer to copy and paste sentence starters like these as compared to using a paper list?
  • Do the sentence starters (as we use them) generate or restrict writing and thinking about books
    • Are the sentence starters clear scaffolding, allowing a young writer to mimic mature responses to books?
    • Do they stifle personal response, encourage dependence, and limit thinking?
  • Is there evidence of an awareness of audience? Does this change anything in how these reading journals seems to be written?

Technology Edit

  • use of Sentence Starters
  • News Items with ReadingBlog in the title
  • choose name from News Departments
  • Personal Icon linked to Department (all News Items)
  • Listed on Sort by Students index page
    • in last 10
    • all
  • Discuss link at the bottom of all messages

WebJournal Web Journals Edit

Informal, often short pieces of writing Edit

You can:

  • Freewrite about anything that's on your mind at the moment.
    • What Is Your Problem??? by Ashley R
    • Describe a recent experience.
    • I Met Good Charlotte, by Gizelle
  • Include an exercise from your writer's notebook.
    • To My Unborn Child, by Randy
  • Respond to an assignment by a teacher.
    • Maintaining Knight Status, by Devon
  • Regularly follow a topic of personal interest over time.
    • NBA season is underway! Who are the worst and best teams in each confernce? by Jeremiah (also follow his jersey icon)

Content Matters Most Edit

Readers and responders often respond to the content of these messages. Keep in mind that a Web Journal is typically not revised and only lightly proofread. The writing is often closer to what you might find in a private journal, not a published magazine or book.

Language Edit

Is the language different from similar paper forms because the sense of audience?

Technology Edit

    • News Items with WebJournal in the title
    • choose name from News Departments
    • Personal Icon linked to Department (all News Items)
    • Listed on Sort by Students index page
      • in last 10
      • all
    • Discuss link at the bottom of all messages


  • Language:
    • Do the sentence starters generate or restrict response writing?
    • What's different in the language used in response on a blog from what might be said verbally or written on paper?
    • Any important language differences in responses to webJournals and readingBlogs?
    • How are these responses similar to and different from what you might find on a discussion forum (like Nicenet)?
  • Technology:
    • Students find messages through
      • "Last 50 Messages" on the Home Page
      • Sort by Student
      • Calendar (used infrequently)
    • Writers are alerted that a response was left by seeing number of discussion items
    • Discussion items appear after last one in a list (not like a tree in a discussion forum)
    • Listed on Sort by Students index page - on list of all items.


  • Language: What kind of language are students using when they summarize, show opinions and read Web sites critically?
  • Technology:
    • News Items with "linkOut" in the title
    • choose name from News Departments
    • Personal Icon linked to Department (all News Items)
    • Listed on Sort by Students index page
      • in last 10
      • all
    • Discuss link at the bottom of all messages (rarely used)
    • When students choose topic in Link_list box at bottom, their links get listed on a separate page, using metadata tags.

Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP)

  • Language: Is there any difference between the process logs students write because they are public?
  • Technology
    • Use of Filer folders.
    • Documents will only open if appropriate software is on the computer.
    • Student's work can be dynamic (e.g. show proofs through creating a simulation)
    • (Yes, this is still a weblog.)


  • Language:
    • How has Microsoft Word changed the way students write?
    • When they use the Comment feature, what kinds of language do students use to make recommendations?
    • When they use Tracking Changes, what deletions, additions, or other changes do they make in other student's texts?
    • Do we want them to be editing each other's writing or responding or what?
  • Technology:
    • Tracking Changes and Comments are nice features of Microsoft Word
    • Use of Filer folders makes word available on a blog.
    • "wordDraft" icon makes clear that the link will download a Word document
    • Students upload Word documents with comments, and make links these in discussion pages.


  • Language: How does the language change as different modes are employed with the text: images, sounds, animations (movement), hyperlinks (space)?
  • Technology: From simple Stories with images to coding with javascript and Flash. How do we find time for this?

In search of a metaphor: What is a Manila Weblog?

  • Log on the Web?
  • Digital Paper?
  • Web Folder?
  • Portal for the Composing Process?

Focus on Two Students Edit

One sample here comes from on one month of a variety of genres produced by a student who met expectations. The other samples the Reading Blogs over three semesters of a student who has not been meeting expectations.

One month of Lisette's blogEdit

Three snap-shots in a year of Antoine's blog Edit

This article is a stub. You can help by expanding it.

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