Purposeful blog writing vs a series of recounts
I see the dilemma, I had different issues around class and individual blogs over the last two years and this year we're using blogs in our year 4-6 common.
At the start of each year I had started with a more traditional rotation and part of the activities included blogging with the expectation that children would visit other blogs and write comments. The design for this was multipurpose. First, I viewed this as a meaningful form of literacy, learners were engaged in choosing their own posts to read and when they found something that they wanted to comment on they would write quality comments. Clearly, writing a quality comment is an artform in itself and within our PLN we regularly talk about wanting to receive & produce more comments. It is also a significant factor in Tom Barrett creating the #28daysofcommenting challenge to follow on from the success of the #28daysofwriting challenge. For my learners it meant that their comment writing was purposeful, they were going to be read by other students. Not all children would engage, but that can be said for any classroom activity. To generate readers for our class/individual blogs we used Quadblogging [International] and Quadblogging Aotearoa also.
I believe the reading of blogs is relatively easy to motivate, kids find this far more interesting than any journals or whole-class novel. They're able to navigate their classmates, or blogs from around the world according to interest and personality.
As to the writing, I agree that writing can start becoming like a series of recounts. However, for some of my developing or reluctant writers I was more than satisfied with this, after all mileage is an important objective for young writers. I'm conscious that many teachers require their budding writers to draft their posts into their books. I understand that they're worried about the quality of posts but as far as I'm concerned, why not take all the fun out of it! I only ever asked children to draft their posts in their book if there wasn't a device available. I regularly go back to my own posts to fix a mistake, this is part of writing and the writing process on a computer, is still the writing process.
The crux of this is your objectives for blogging, I was trying to engage the children in writing so any posts were a positive and therefore I was happy to let my children choose their own topics. Some of my children were happy to write recounts about school events and important moments in their lives and that is where their blogging journey finished. However for others they used it as an outlet for their creative writing, sharing their interests and publishing projects. While some of these posts had higher readership than others, for me the key was in the writing not the page views. Our school community never really bought into the whole blogging process, I'd wanted to run a family blogging competition using a point scoring system (idea was stolen from another blogging guru Linda Yollis). Again though, for me this wasn't the primary objective, just a great addition when it happened. However, a tear almost came to this lad's eye when I was told that one of my children's blog was helping keep a Dad connected with his child while he worked in the Abu Dhabi. As I say this comes down to objectives that the teacher has for the blog and the writer, and hence how students approach their writing. 'Pimping your blog' was another measure I came across, if running individual blogs set a goal of x number of posts before an individual can introduce their own templates or additional gadgets. While I don't advocate changing your objectives to suit your output, I know that I found any quality writing was still worthwhile, regardless of the writing form.
|Source: What is Engagement?|
Perhaps you should try an action @JJPurtonJones used recently, discuss your problem with the class and see how they would remedy this? Their actual problem was how to create a writing programme that was more engaging for their school, so very similar to your problem, albeit a slightly different medium. Mileage, while not going to be your primary objective, is still important for your learners as they hone their skills as young writers.
I sincerely hope that my post will give you some food for thought. I'm sure that others may be able to find aspects that can help their own or their classes blogging. For me, I feel that this has been one of my more meaningful posts - even if it for an audience of 1.
As an aside, I'm counting this as my Day 20 & 21 post - its taken a while but it has been worth it.