Yesterday I met with my high school students in our CALL room and did a worthwhile exercise using the PikiFriends blogging feature. It took me less than 5 minutes to prepare and I thought the results were excellent. I hope it’s useful to teachers out there.
(Caveat: You can do this lesson with other blogging platforms. PikiFriends is what I use.)
Setting: 35 High School ESL girls (young women?)
English level: False beginner to fluent (How’s that for a range?)
Objective: To give students opportunities to communicate opinions and supporting reasons in English, in an authentic setting.
Materials: 1 internet-connected computer per student, PikiFriends membership (100% free by the way)
Notes: 100 minute class. All students have already been using PikiFriends.
1 – Before class I wrote 3 blogs on my profile page (see picture below). Each blog is asking for opinions about something related to the students’ lives.
2 – During class I asked students to write 1 comment for each blog (3 comments total).
3 – I read their comments as they entered them from my computer. Occasionally I added a comment to help the flow of the ‘conversation.’ If the comments were inadequate (“I don’t like it.”) or didn’t sufficiently answer the question with supporting reasons, I erased them and asked for a rewrite. Erasing comments can be done with 1 click of the trash can icon. (see below for student writing examples)
4 – When some students finished early, I asked them to continue a previous assignment on PikiFriends which I will write about in a separate post soon. It has to do with answering contest questions on PikiFriends’ “Contest Page.”
Bonus benefit: After class, while we were sleeping in Japan, a PikiFriends member from America commented on each blog, offering her perspective on the issues. I hope to see more comments like this soon. This is the beauty of using an online community, and something you can’t accomplish with traditional methods!
I believe my students will be very interested to read comments from outside of our school, and I will include this in subsequent lessons.
Student writing examples:
About studying math:
With the right blogging platform you can bring the element of authenticity to the class, the impact of which can not be overstated.
Blogging in English can help to improve many aspects of ESL students’ input and output, and is certainly a useful skill for their future. Do you blog with your students?