As the end of the semester approaches and I write my final blog post, I am beginning to reflect on the beginning of the semester and how I felt about the idea of blogging for this class as opposed to writing the traditional essays that I’m used to.
When I told my friend who is also an English major but at a different institution that I wouldn’t be writing formal essays for this class but blog posts, she said, “No offense, but how is it an English class if you aren’t writing essays”. I’ll admit that I thought the same thing upon looking at the syllabus. I’ve grown accustomed to being expected to write formal papers for English classes that I was kind of shocked and intimidated when seeing that we would be blogging instead.
This reflects the danger of a single story that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns about in her TED Talk. I have fallen into this trap that the writing component for English classes always has to follow the same format with formal papers but who is to say that that is the definitive approach to writing for English classes?
To tell you the truth, I’ve grown to like the idea of blogging better. I believe that students benefit more from blogging than writing formal essays in the following ways:
- These aren’t high stakes assignments so if students do poorly on the first one, they still have several more opportunities to improve themselves without seeing their grade suffer too bad. In English classes with formal papers, they’re often a big chunk of your grade so if the student does poorly it shows.
- It strengthens writing skills. Personally I have seen growth in my writing since my first blog post back in February. By getting into the practice of writing a post, receiving feedback and then writing a new post, I’ve worked on improving what went wrong the last time.
- Students have the ability to interact with other students’ work. Unlike formal papers, here on the blog we have had the opportunity to read and respond to our peers’ work and then build off one another’s ideas.
- It helps the student find what they are interested in. At first I was quite unsure as to what I would actually write about. To be quite honest, I did not think I would get around to writing all ten blog posts because the uncertainty of what to write about was daunting. Once I got started though, ideas came to me easier. Cindy Castillo expresses this idea in their blog post by saying, “I have more to talk about than what I had originally been led to believe, the hardest part is just starting”. With the freedom to write about what they would like pertaining to the class, students would most likely be gravitating toward something in particular, something that really sparks interest in them. As I have read my peers’ posts, I have noticed patterns in what people write about which is really cool to be able to see what others are interested in.
Overall, I really enjoyed this blogging experience. It gave me a new perspective for English classes. Going forward, I think that this way of approaching the writing component for English classes should be looked at. This way would also be especially beneficial to introductory level classes like ENGL 203. It could really help a new English major find what interests them and work on their skills as they prepare to move through the major.