A Digital Experiment


I tried an experiment in my class on Monday, and I am a bit at a loss as to what to do with it.

You see, my students need to write better in English to progress through their levels. They are not allowed to progress on only one aspect.  They must show/make progress in the four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).  Generally, I feel confident that my students do make progress—except when I don’t feel that way and feelings of inadequacy and job disillusionment take over, or when students don’t make progress based on their own laziness.

Nevertheless, the one skill that seems to get the least attention is writing. It could be because teachers don’t like to assign writing because it become homework for the teacher as well as the student, or because students grumble and complain or refuse/forget to do it.  I need them to do it, and I need them to do it quicker.  I also need them to take it seriously.  They also seem to love the digital world and crave the approval of others.

So, my novel idea was to set up a blog. That way, they could use the computer (replicating their test experience) and also up the stakes a little by making it public.  I considered that they might like it more because of the use of technology.  Sometimes, they criticize me for not being so technically “with it”.  Sometimes, I am not living in the 21st Century.  Additionally, this method makes it easy for them to submit it to me without giving them my email address.  My only problem is how to highlight their errors, and exploit the learning potential.

I have edited two of them, (purposefully not catching all their mistakes/perceived mistakes/ perceived errors in creativity). Basically, I have given them a road map they can follow to fix their blogs.

I am not sure this is the best way to help them. Perhaps, I should do what I have done, but in the classroom (traditionally what I would do).  Then, I could have them correct and edit their blogs again.  I just don’t know if this makes it serious enough for them.

Here is the address:   https://anthonysclass.home.blog/

If you prefer hyperlinks, Please check it out here.

I invite you to read them and give me your thoughts on how best to help them.  If you want to encourage them, they would like your positive comments.  No need to correct their English as that is what I am getting paid to do.

I will continue to be the administrator of the blog and might get other classes involved in it. I am not sure.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, digital, ESL, experiment, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, starting a blog, students, teaching, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Digital Experiment

  1. bionicOldGuy says:

    I think this is a great idea. It encourages them to take writing seriously. I can’t think of how to help them other than correct their errors the same way you would if they had turned in a writing assignment.

  2. I love the concept! It was not an option when I was teaching in China. I read two so far. When you mark do you explain why a word or phrase is incorrect? I know it is extremely time consuming, yet also so helpful.

    • Anthony says:

      Usually, I put the errors on the white board (electronic version) and then have them work in pairs to find the mistakes. Then we go over why they are mistakes, or why they should be changed. Students are encouraged to ask questions.
      I usually try to include some positive comments as well. I also pick out some vocabulary and ask them to tell me the other word forms–if it is a very, I ask for a noun, adjective and adverb. Sometimes I ask for synonyms or opposites.
      Basically, I try to exploit the material for more than error correction.
      Some classes need help with punctuation and paragraphing as well.

  3. bumpyyear says:

    Writing is an essential skill. I know you know this! It’s what is going to give these young people the edge when applying for jobs. I know you know this! Thank you for caring about your students. I’ve posted some comments.

  4. bumpyyear says:

    Doh me! I should have added a bit about me on the comments – so you can tell your students that I am writing to them from Ireland… I live here, and am originally from North America… So there’s a big bad world out there.. but writing makes it much smaller. 😉

  5. Heide says:

    What a wonderful idea, Anthony — and what wonderful, varied essays your students have written. Please tell them that I loved reading about everything from the importance of engineering to Cancún to why it’s worth visiting Orlando to Lollapalooza in Brazil (and Comic Con in Toronto). You’re making their world bigger, and mine too.

  6. Hunida says:

    Aww I love this idea, Anthony!! I am sure your students are having fun with this assignment. Or… at least, I would be, if I were them. 😛

    • Anthony says:

      I was/am surprised at how much they liked it. I tried it with another class (same blog, lower level) and they loved it too. Now I have to edit it….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s