Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another failed experiment

Sometimes it seems that I only learn from my own mistakes. Today it led to frustration and, for me at least, a little learning.

I have been blogging with my intermediate level ESL students this semester. It has been a great experience except for one thing: the students post things that are only minimally intelligible even to me. Not all of them all the time, but enough that I think it is a problem.

I tried to address this today by having them look at a high school math blog to see what a class blog could be like. I asked them to look at some of the posts and then comment on what they noticed about the blog. They commented on the substance of the blog, on the explanations of math that they didn't understand. None of them noticed that words were spelled correctly and that there was appropriate punctuation. Finally I had to point it out to them. After that they said they understood what I had been trying to get at, but I am not convinced.

I am not sure where to draw the line with this. I believe that their writing will improve by writing, so maybe I should just be patient. But I don't like the idea of them publishing their writing without any concern for the formalities and conventions of writing in English. The blog is for a reading class rather than for a writing class, but I still believe they should at least try to write correctly. I'm just not sure how to make this happen!

1 comment:

Stephen Lazar said...

I had an interesting conversation with my students about this issue (before blogging) last spring. I think it's a tough call, and comes down to the question of what your priority is in blogging. If the priority is to help the students develop their thinking, then I wonder if the standards of English matter so much (there's also a "relativist" argument to be made here, but I'm not sure how valid that is). On the other hand, if your goal is to help develop writing skills, then it seems language standards have to matter. My students ultimately decided not to prohibit "IM speak," but also decided to write in a way that everyone in the class could understand (everyone knows "LOL", not everyone is going to get "l8tr")