Kickin' off with paper blogs

Online blogs have been something I have done with my class every year that I've been a teacher, and it's something I believe really motivates my students to write, type and think.

Last year, our building went through Write Tools training, and I really liked the explicit format of teaching certain styles of writing. We only received the basic training, and I am very interested in learning more about their genre-specific workshops.

Anyway, this year, I want our blogs to drive our writing block, under the structure of the Write Tools program, using Being A Writer to navigate the various styles of writing.

Today, we started our Paper Blogs activity. This will be my first time introducing fifth graders to online blogs. Last year, my fifth graders moved up with me from fourth grade, where they first met blogs. I'm wondering what difference it will make having fifth graders starting to blog as opposed to fourth graders.

I do have a few ideas already. I noticed one of my twentyfive students could not decided on a topic to write about. I intro'd the task by asking them to think of topics that they could write about for more than five minutes and here is the list our class made:


I gave him some time to think about it, while the rest of the class got busy writing, which always impresses me. They were fairly silent, with a whisper here and there about spelling. Just write - worry about gnilleps later! Anyway, I checked in with him to see how he was doing and to make sure he understood the task. He surely did, just couldn't decide on what to write about.

After fifteen minutes (I had originally told the class we'd write for five minutes, but before I knew it, fifteen had passed) we stopped the class and he still hadn't written anything. After a bunch of other kids stood on their chairs to share, I found out what the issue was.

He secretly wanted to write about hunting guns, but was unsure if he could or not. I got the feeling that in the past he was told he couldn't write about hunting guns. Maybe he was never given the choice, or perhaps he was asked to write about something other than guns.

Could just one more year of a bad experience with writing be enough to bring a student to the place where they are afraid to write?