Youth Blogging: Tutoring as Collaboration & Co-Authoring
In today’s sea of ever changing web-based social connections, blogging has the potential to be simultaneously adaptive to and constitutive of many digital and non-digital literacies. For educators and parents, blogs can be tools for providing their students with relevant, purposeful, and connective writing and learning experiences. For students, blogging can offer new ways of participating in the affinity groups they are active in, or they can provide opportunities to discover and experience entirely new ones. When writing allows students to call upon their everyday experiences and interests to develop writing strategies in embodied and connective ways, it provides an opportunity for students to see themselves as “writers.” That is, students can develop an identity-kit that values writing in multiple modes as a meaningful way to engage in and contribute to a discourse community.
Of course designing and facilitating a writing experience that actualizes these principles would be incredibly complex to say the least. We wondered: Would it even be possible to design an organic blogging experience, or would its very design make it feel like school or work? Is there a balance to be struck? And even if you could square that circle, what does a balanced embodied and connective writing experience even look like? A blog, as a designed space, certainly affords the opportunity for students to explore text and meaning-making through image, sound, and movement, as well as connect and contribute to a conversation beyond the reaches of their voice. But it is only a tool. How can we exploit this tool in ways that contribute to a fruitful learning experience?
This collection offers up one approach to designing and providing a writing and learning experience that seeks to embed the development of writing strategies in an informal and authentic blogging experience. Designed as an out of school activity, we pushed against the notion of a tutor/teacher being a didactic caretaker and instead became co-participants in the developing blogging practices through strategically decentering and recentering the student-tutor relationship. We present our model, as a single design among many, to provide a launch pad for parents and educators who are looking for ways to encourage students to write and to come to see themselves as writers.
Our Youth Blogging: Tutoring as Collaboration & Co-Authoring Lesson Plans resource offers a series of short lessons that can be used by parents or writing mentors in informal settings or by educators in school settings. In Lesson One: Introducing Multimodality, we share a way to introduce students to a variety of modes in order to enrich their writing. In Lesson Two: Connective Writing & Connective Learning, we offer an approach to teaching blogging aspects in smaller bits. Finally, in Lesson Three: Freedom in Blogging we address the dialogic opportunity that blogging offers students.
In addition to our lesson plans, we also link to two resources that add to the conversation about connected writing: Bud Hunt's resource, Teaching Blogging Not Blogs, and Paul Allison's work Authentic Conversations on Youth Voices. Both of these resources provide inspiration and framing for our project.
by Anthony Miranda and Sarah Macie Skipwith