I've just introduced my ESL students to blogs via our class Ning. Anyway it's got me thinking about a few things. Should I correct all their writing? My students are refugees and migrants learning English and I don't want to discourage them in anyway. I want them to feel free to get their ideas down and to feel confident doing so.

Should I respond modelling correct spelling and grammar?

Should they write in Word first and do a spell check etc?

What do you do with your students? How do you work with blogs? I'd be grateful for any ideas/suggestions.

Tags: assessment, blogging, esl

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i would consider assessment as you would with any other task.

What learning do you want the kids to demonstrate?
What is the most relevant way of assessing this?
I have used bloggin in my sociology course for a couple of years. When I started bloggin with students I struggled with this same question. But after thoughtful consideration as to what my goal for bloggin was I decided to just let students express themselves. I allowed texting language and IM language in their posts and did not correct them. I still made writing in Standard English a part of the course, just not in the blogging portion. I have found that if I want kids to express themselves then they will do so more freely if they are not worried about a typo, correct grammer or using a b/c or ;-) when they want.
I have thought about this question many times since I first read it several days ago. I just sat down and read David's response about not assessing the blog entries at all. My thoughts had stated to move that way myself. Do we as teachers really need to assess everything students do? Do we need to require proper standards in everything students do? Is there going to be a shift in shat "standard" is? We don't stress handwriting the way we used to. Not a fact popular with all educators, but I wonder if this will be a trend that moves to other areas of education.
Hey David, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. We tend to think of assessment as something that only happens at the end of an assignment, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it's better if assessment happens alongside the student so that they can fix mistakes, learn and grow.

That kind of authentic assessment is what happens in the real world. Nobody says to an accountant, "give me a report by Monday", and then just says, "you fail" on Tuesday. The boss might ask for a draft and give you comments, and in fixing the report the person learns how to create a better report, and they both end up with a better report at the end.

Authentic student assessment can be the same way, the feedback teaches AND creates better end products.
Hello Greg,
Well, my simple approach for assessment is like with any other assignment, that is, did they show an understanding of the assignment in his or her blog writing, and then, was the resulting work of high quality (perhaps measured by an agreed-upon rubric)?


Hi Greg... such an interesting topic!

I've read everyone's response and I agree with most!

A blog can be treated as a journal that is not graded except as a completion grade, especially when they are at ESL level one.

At ESL levels two or three there comes a point where there are things that need graded, but perhaps not at the same time, but as different parts of the writing process. For example, we use 6+1 Writing in our district, where you assess for different things, such as content, organization,voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and publication (I think is the last one!). Each is graded as a standalone trait at its level, while ignoring the other traits. Then in the final one, the writing is published and is considered as a whole. And not all assignments go all the way through all levels You can find further info here, as well as rubrics for each level.

I teach Teen Leadership as well as Spanish, and in the TL class, the students are writing to express their thoughts. But in my Spanish class, I grade the grammar of what they are supposed to know and the content of what they make an effort at but haven't learned yet.

For Spanish I students I use a Wiki for classroom organization purposes, probably much as you do your Ning. Their projects i grade for grammar and use of complex sentences, and their "own" pages I don't grade at all. I might give them a productivity grade occasionally while we are working on a project, but it doesn't have the weight of the finished product. Their individual wikis are not actually made public unless they are really good, and then I feature links to them on the front page of my wiki.

I just started using the discussion buttons to write to them in Spanish and I'm going to have them write to me in Spanish via the email or discussion pages and for that I will grade for completion or content. I just want them to write more at this point. Maybe by the end of the year we will be writing in our class blog, but I don't know. This is my first year to do any web 2.0 work, so maybe by next year I will organize it differently. So, again, I agree with everyone! Each assignment has its purpose and that guides the grading.
Hope you finish well!
Lisa Burden
Hi Greg, I teach Information Technology, and all my classes have set up individual blogs. So, when I assess, I am looking at completeness of tasks, use of images to enhance their writings and am encouraging them to use their blogs for digital portfolio purposes, so that they add in all sorts of examples of their work from all classes. Therefore, they type immediately into their blogs. I find most want their posts to look good and read well and they will often ask me to quickly proofread their work. We use edublogs with wordpress as the interface, so word documents to not transfer well. If they are grabbing work that they have completed in MS Word, they are encouraged to paste it into notepad first to keep similar formatting and then copy it into their post.
I have grades 4-10, so they are embedding any digital movies they have made, adding pages with examples of their digital images, taking photos of their artwork, adding them to a post together with a descriptor.
So far, any comments they make on each others' blogs, have often featured their sms language. I find I then, learn their digital language and have so far allowed that. However, if they wish to comment on student posts from other countries they are requested to use full and correct English.
Hi Anne,

How do you use EduBlogs with Wordpress for your students? Is it possible to link them to a class wiki?
Hi Rebecca, I am not sure how it all works, but edublogs are set up specifically for the educational sector, but they use wordpress as the interface. There may be better experts than me who could explain it properly. You could link them with a hyperlink but not embed them. They are two different software types and used for slightly different purposes. In my simple language, wikis are like interactive web pages with links and blogs are crhonological type 'journal' entries.
Right! I link mine to my wiki. I think they can be embedded, but so far my service, Wikispaces, only uses Typepad for that. So I use a link.
When I am providing feedback on web pages or blogs I tend to copy and paste the item into Word and then use revision marks and comments to provide feedback. Of course, you have to look at the original as some of the formatting will have changed as you go from screen to document. The marked feedback can then be sent back in an email or perhaps as an attachment to another blog post.

There are several addins to Word that will help you save time by allowing you to prepare reusable comments and I have listed these at http://www.baker-evans.com/community/mod/forum/view.php?id=306.

I have not worked with ESL students but I would imagine that including audio in the feedback may be valuable and if you are providing feedback in a Word document the audio will be embedded into the document. Confact me at eMarking-assistant@baker-evans.com if you want more information on this.

Peter Evans
What I usually do is let them know ahead of time what you are looking for. Grade on only one thing at a time. Say one time, you just want to see them write a paragraph and then build up to writing more to obtain confidence. Then start with, okay now for this assignment I'm going to grade on sentence variety, then work up to spelling, grammar, etc. Build their confidence first and gradually bring in other things first. If they have access to a computer word may be okay. I started mine with just writing 5 sentences on anything and do that for a few weeks and then use the sentences they may have written to write a paragraph, etc.



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