California State writing standard 2.3 requires sixth grade students to write a persuasive composition. They are to support their position with organized and relevant evidence, and anticipate and address reader concerns and counterarguments (California State Teaching Standards). Having struggled to teach this standard to my special education students in the past, I am excited about the prospect of using a Weblog to teach this standard and simultaneously practice my own blogging skills. In my recent research about blogs, I learned that that the best way to understand the impact of the Read/Write web and become proficient at using it, is to become a blogger and blog consistently (Richardson, 2010).
Students with learning disabilities have processing challenges that impede their ability to make sense of what they learn. Whether it is visual, auditory, or the integration and organization of information, their road blocks often contribute to their inattentiveness, poor self image and frustration. Special education teachers are constantly looking for ways to keep them engaged with learning despite their struggles.
I would use a class blog, “See It My Way”, to have students demonstrate their understanding of how to write a persuasive essay. While introducing the blog and teaching content appropriateness, students will respond to self generated prompts of personal interest. As they refine their skills, prompts will be grade level cross curricular topics and students will be required to use the websites and blogs to provide research based content.
The purpose of this blog is dual fold: to showcase their understanding of persuasive writing and to allow them to mirror the business model in which construction of content and collaboration are the norm. In addition, having students write to an audience much larger than their classroom enhances the relevance of what they write. The knowledge that a worldwide audience will read and respond to what they write provides them the motivation to put forth their best efforts (Richardson, 2010). Furthermore, special education students are notorious for having preferred learning styles, that when used, contribute to their success. Students reticent to make oral presentations, blossom in the blog environment where everyone shares their ideas in writing. Inherent in authoring and posting to blogs is the requirement to think deeply and critically about what is written.
Although my students struggle to write a persuasive essay through the traditional reading/writing programs, research has shown that students who engage in Weblogs show more interest in the work and their ability to locate and reflect on their work. This new understanding serves as a catalyst for me along with my students to step into the blogging world to prepare for the literacies required to be successful in the information society of tomorrow (Richardson, 2010).
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.