Current/Recent Reading List

12 October 2008

Wonders of the eZine

It is a rare occasion, indeed, when I can tout my groundbreaking work (ha!) in using technology for the classroom. However, over the summer with the Writing Project, I learned about how to set up a private class "eZine" at Writing Matters, and so decided to give it a whirl with my honors class. I'm certain that more advanced teachers having been doing this sort of thing for years, but this was a bit of a plunge for me.

What you do is set everyone up with a password (so you can track deviant behavior), and then allow them to post a variety of academic, creative, rhetorical, or informal writings, which all others in the class can then post comments about. Of course, once I set it up, explained the rules, and displayed it for them, I didn't get the instant, "Oh, Mr. P this is the most wonderful, inspirational, rad, awesome idea ever! We're all going to post ten writings and comments tonight!!" reaction I was looking for, so I had to rely on one of my ingenious motivational techniques to get them going. Namely, I told them to post something, or get a "0".

Well, it worked, and the eZine really has taken off. There are something like 60 or 70 pieces of writing now up, and a plethora of comments. Fortunately, these have all stayed within bounds, and have been positive. I was hoping for a little more in the way of communal constructive criticism, but perhaps that will come as they get more comfortable sharing their writing and participating in give-and-take commentary.

In any case, I am so pleased with the results. Each week a few new things pop up there without prompting from me, and the kids seem to be into it. Now, the next frontier is to try it out with my standard English class, where many a reluctant writer presides. Still, I want to see how it goes with them, if I don't murder them for their fifth-grade mentalities beforehand...

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