Lesson plan: Quick & Easy Blogging with Students

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.

Procedure:

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:

About reading books:

About school uniforms:

Conclusion:

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?

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11 thoughts on “Lesson plan: Quick & Easy Blogging with Students

  1. I’m inspired to start a blog of writing prompts for my students. That way they can get experience using a computer. I’m doing it right now.

  2. Thanks for posting! I’ve recently started doing this with 2 adult ESL learners, as a supplement to our once-weekly conversation lessons (using a Google Site right now — Not sure how we’ll like the platform for this purpose). One tricky thing for me is starting and facilitating blog conversations when one student is a beginner, and the other intermediate-mid. Any recommendations? Planning to frequently use interesting photo/video content, on topics relevant to both members of this married couple, and maybe 2 prompts per post (a very simple Q and more complicated Q)…

  3. Thanks so much for your replies.

    Jesse, in my lesson plan above I’m working with a much wider gap of ability than your married couple, yet it worked very well so I think you’re on the right track if you use interesting content to springboard reactions appropriate to their levels. Demand more from the higher level student by word minimum or ask follow up questions. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Hello
    I’m 50y old math teacher from Romania (eastern Europe).I,m not confortable with english but I understand a lot and i hope there is a meaning in what I write here.
    I like very much all this coments.
    I suddenly remembered a quote on the wall of the class when I was 15.It belongs to an important romanian matematician GRIGORE MOISIL
    In an aproximate translation it said that if you want to became good mathematicians learn mathematics, if you want to became good engineers learn mathelatics also if you want to became good doctors, musicians, economists or any learn mathematics.I think he was wright.

    • Math is essential for so much more than I realized when I was a high school student. It was hard to appreciate it back then. Now I see it much differently, but to be honest I’m glad I’m not sitting in a calculus class right now!

  5. I’m one of the weird ones cos I liked math. It is important in everything we do, and little things like judging length, measurement, adding up and multiplying quicker than the current reliance on calculators and ‘gizmos’ makes me proud. I’m currently a prof in Korea. I was and Electronics engr. I’m not a great reader, preferring ‘watching’ so here modern technology suits me and regarding uniforms I think the original idea was not to assist girls with having less choices to make, tho heaven knows, in Uni, it is still very competitive,but the concept was to create equality amongst students between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’; although that i still a prob cos the biggie brand names came in and still created that same dilemma for kids and thus the ‘nike’ wearers V the woolworths group.
    SOme good comments there, so thanks :).

    • I envy your love of math. It’s not that I dislike it, but I really lost interest in formally studying it at around age 17 and never found the enjoyment I had with it before that age. It truly is important in everything that we do, the way of using your brain to calculate in various ways is so useful in more ways than we can say.
      I understand the benefits of uniforms for students as far as bringing a form of equality, it’s a good thing for many students.

  6. Pingback: Lesson plan for blogging with students: Make a Contest Page | The official blog of PikiFriends

  7. Hi, the idea of using blogs for ESL teaching came up last week in our new school. I’m in the process of starting up one and I feel inspired by these ideas and stories I’ve heard. I’m also hoping to create some sort of pen pal system to encourage writing. Cheers to the good work and all the best.

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