Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Do You Blog? A Student's Perspective

The following is a guest post by New Milford High School sophomore Sarah Almeda. After learning about her Chemistry blog titled Avogadro Salad I asked her to share some insight on the importance of blogging from a student's perspective. I was so blown away by what she wrote below that I went against my long standing personal policy of not following my students on Twitter. Please take a minute to read Sarah's post below, share a comment with her, and check her out on Twitter. This is one amazing student!


...Um, because Ms. Smith made me?  

Lol, jk. (That’s, “laughing out loud, just kidding” in teenspeak, that fictional language adults seem scared of...?)

I’m Sarah Almeda, a sophomore at New Milford High School. Somehow, I can have twitter conversations with my teachers and my principal. Somehow, they led to Mr. Sheninger giving me the opportunity to write a guest post on the importance of student blogging. I’m a blogger at heart, as I have been since 4th grade. That’s probably why I was actually excited when my chemistry teacher, Ms. Smith, opened the year by telling us that part of our assessment in the course  would be the regular maintenance of a blog.  This included posts twice a week that connect chemistry to our world.

Image credit: http://gregmillerprincipal.com/tag/blogging/

Now, I’ve posted almost daily to a personal blog for years and I’m grateful for the decision. I’m told I’m a very good writer. I’m not trying to boast; my writing visibly improved when I started blogging and I can tell you why.  Teens turn to the internet for validation, myself included. Why? When I post to my blog, I don’t write to impress a teacher. My audience is the World Wide Web, which is literally worldwide. I attract viewers from all around the globe. When a post gets attention, some views, likes, comments, or even subscriptions, I look at the post and think, Wow; I had some valid ideas that a complete stranger could relate with. What did they like? How do I turn these visitors into regular readers? When a post gets no attention, I then think, What would be more interesting? What will lead viewers to my blog? How do I get a response? 

Rather than having a teacher hammer the importance of good writing into my head, I get to feel it in a very real world situation with immediate feedback. I don’t just learn about writing, either. Yesterday, my friends were genuinely interested to hear me talk about how one day our phones may literally be coated with nanodiamonds. I learned that from an article I blogged about. Now I’m always learning a great deal about topics that I decide are interesting to blog about, like the chemistry behind a bad hair day. Not to mention that my chemistry blog is a blessing for someone whose homework always seems to disappear rather inopportunely. I can put an assignment on my blog in the “Homework" category, protect it from copycat classmates, and email the password to Ms. Smith so she can view it whenever she needs to.  Not convinced yet? I learned HTML coding when finding ways to better format blog posts, and it’s become a very useful skill. 

A personal blog’s also the perfect place to vent my feelings. After articulating my emotions to an Internet audience, I realize I’m better understanding myself.  In an Internet world where that wretched teenspeak is the preferred language on nearly all social media platforms (bc my insta captions/ tumblr posts r like so articulate lol jk idec) blogging is a practice that expands learning way beyond the walls of the classroom. It encourages self-improvement and dedication in a way that I don’t believe can be taught as well as it can be experienced. And it's addictively fun!

So, pull a Ms. Smith move! Teach kids to blog! Start one yourself! Trust me, you’ll find the time, you’ll find the passion, you’ll find out a lot about the world, and you might even find out more about yourself.  And watch out for me! You can find my chemistry blog by clicking HERE, and I’m even building my own website with the awesome tools I learned in business class at NMHS.

Cheers!
-Sarah “Shmarah” Almeda

Please take a moment and leave a comment for Sarah. Not only is she a talented blogger, but an artist as well (see her self portrait below). She, like many of her NMHS classmates, fully take advantage of everything that NMHS has to offer to advance their learning and follow their passions.

Image credit: Sarah Almeda

36 comments:

  1. Great post "Shmarah."

    I think the attitude you take towards blogging and sharing is the most important part of this entire post. I have always promoted blogging as a very cathartic process, but probably have never articulated it as eloquently as you did here.

    Wonderful post that I look forward to sharing with people in my district. Well done.

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  2. Great Job, Sarah!! This is awesome (Teenspeak - This is sick!). Could not be more proud of you! I love reading your blogs and I think you write beautifully. :-)

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  3. Excellent post Sarah. Very well written, and I think you may have inspired me to start my own blog...just need to figure out a name as creative as 'Avogadro Salad'!

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  4. Enjoyed reading your story and learning more about blogging. Well done! Can't wait to read your final business plan!!!!!

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  5. Blogging gives everyone a voice and allows you to contribute to the world. Way to go! Your message is a powerful one that every teacher and student would benefit from reading.

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  6. Awesome job Sarah!!! Keep up with the good work. Writing is a good way to express yourself.

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  7. Great post, Sarah! You are fortunate to attend a school like NMHS, with a leader that understands what education should look like today. It sounds like you and your classmates are doing some amazing things. Keep up the good work, and change the world.

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    1. Another inspiring blogger and way fortunate to be under E?S?'s leadership @NMHS. Now need to translate into practice for me and my K-5 ESL students.

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this. Your enthusiasm for blogging is contagious! Keep up all of your great work!!

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  9. Your work is definitely an inspiration to those who read it! It can be very intimidating to blog, but you took the challenge full on and did an excellent job with it! Continue to follow your passion!

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  10. From Quebec - Canada, let me say BRAVO to this great post. Merci de ton témoignage inspirant !

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  11. Amazing Sarah! I'll use your post on pros of blogging in education to start changing bit by bit the old fashioned teaching styles of my teachers (I direct a public school in Italy). I also admire your chemistry blog, great job and my congratulations to your teachers. Silvia

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  12. You ROCK as always! You just made me miss teaching English, more specifically, your class! That year was probably my happiest and best year of teaching in DEOMS! Stay Gold! ;)

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  13. Wow Sarah! You are TOTALLY inspiring me to start a blog. The idea has kind of been on a back burner for me for a while, but hmm.... I think it may now move up on my priority list! Thanks for such a great read- and for turning the tables by being the "teacher" while allowing us to be your students:)

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  14. What a wonderful post, and so very well written. It is a pleasure to share the same school with you. You are great!

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  15. Comment copied from my Facebook page by Raymond Harrison (former NMHS English teacher): There are many important understandings here: writing regularly improves writing ability; writing to an audience improves writing; writing for a real world purpose rather than a mere school assignment improves writing; receiving feedback from multiple readers improves writing. What most impresses me in this blog post is that the student is genuinely enthusiastic about writing and about improving her writing! Learning should be enjoyable as well as instructive. In Literature this type of writing is called Didactic: intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment. Learning should be a didactic experience.

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  16. Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on blogging. Two things you hit resonated with me as a LA teacher as I am encouraging my own students to delve into the world of blogging. The first is how it is helping you as a writer. Too often we are asking students to write things for inauthentic audiences (classmates) about topics that are not engaging or interesting to the student. Blogging forces writers, or at least encourages the notion of a real audience and that can be a scary but also liberating thing to do. When you are putting your work out there the stakes are higher and therefore the writing can come under more scrutiny. In my experiences this heightens the quality of writing or at least the potential.

    The other idea I grabbed from your post is about your articulation of feelings and how it helps you better understand yourself. I find this to be true and is a huge part of what I am trying to instill in my students. The reflective potential of writing and blogging is immense and I think you have tapped into that and I do plan on sharing your thoughts with my own students.

    Keep blogging!

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  17. Terrific post Sarah. I am envious of your comment stream. As others have mentioned, blogging helps crystalize and demonstrate knowledge. We are 1:1 with iPads at our school. However, my vision for changing the world is for every learner to have a digital portfolio that shares their life adventure along with their evidence of learning. You are well on your way. What is your suggestion for getting more teachers and students actively involved in discussions such as these. Thank you for sharing, I am looking forward to reading more from you.

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  18. Hi Sarah, It's so cool that you were the guest post! I've been trying to think of how/who I could have guest post on my blog. I've got the idea now - thanks to your teacher and you!
    I started blogging last summer and got my 4th graders going in Kidblog. Now in their blogging they are using 100WC.net weekly prompts. It's a fun challenge to use only 100 words for a creative entry and it's exciting when comments show up.

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  19. Hi, Sarah:

    Cool that you connect with your teachers and principal through Twitter. I love your perspective on the world wide audience giving you authentic feedback on your writing. Keep on blogging!

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  20. Obviously blogging has been an exceptional learning experience (as well as an enjoyable one), but I have a few questions for you that I hope you blog on as well.

    How many of your friends regularly blog vs how many roll their eyes when you bring it up?

    Have you encouraged others to successfully blog? If so, how and how many? This is very important because I have encouraged others with really limited success.

    Do the kids that don't normally blog like being made to blog or is there a lot of push back? I realize your high school is very encouraging of using tech in the learning space, does that seem to make it easier for them to accept?

    Thanks for the post, let me know if you follow up with my questions.

    Wm Chamberlain
    NoelTigers.com
    Comments4kids.com
    @wmchamberlain on Twitter.

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  21. Dear Sarah,

    Thanks so much for the fabulous post about blogging. I teach elementary school, and I am looking forward to sharing your message with my third graders. They are just learning how to blog, and I'd love for them to see how far you've come since fourth grade!

    I notice the positive impact blogging has had on my young students. Knowing that they have an audience makes them want to produce quality writing and publish meaningful posts.

    Thank you, Eric, for sharing Sarah's perspective and for promoting educational blogging.

    ~Linda Yollis
    @lindayollis

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  22. What an excellent post Sarah! I am impressed. I'm a teacher and I am thinking about using a blog with my students. You are an inspiration!

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  23. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I wish more students were willing to share their thoughts so articulately. I have some new ideas for my classes come Monday!

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  24. Thanks for your inspiring words, Sarah! You capture your audience, write with purpose, and infuse humor into your blog. I look forward to reading more in the future.

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  25. Thank you for an informative, enlightening and entertaining read Sarah. I feel inspired to encourage others to start to write blogs, perhaps more importantly to start one myself.

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  26. Fantastic post, Sarah!

    I'm glad blogging has brought you so much understanding and joy! I'm new to the blogging world, but I'm trying to establish a place for my thoughts and experiences as a first-year teacher who moved across the world. I'm very impressed with your writing style - I need to work on mine!

    I'm now following you on Twitter!

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  27. Um, hi! Sarah here!
    Thank you kindly for your feedback! I made a post in response to all the questions and such. You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/mmdyfud

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  28. Hi Sarah!
    I loved reading your student perspective on blogging. We (teachers) always talk about the importance of an authentic audience, but this really confirmed it. I can't wait to check out your own blog and response to everyone's questions.

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  29. Nicely done, Sarah! Thanks for giving me some new ideas to incorporate into my classroom. Keep up the exciting work!!

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  30. Great job, Sarah! You make me so proud to be your adviser! You so beautifully put into words all of the things that I love about blogging. I hope that you carry this passion with you forever -- it really is the best way to feel connected to the people around you (and not just inside the walls of NMHS)! Keep up the amazing work, you are going places, kiddo! :)

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  31. As for me. maybe, just maybe, I will start blogging to myself on a piece of notebook paper and hang it on the refrigerator so my wife and friends can comment when they see it posted in all its glory. But in all honesty Young Almeda, because of you I may one day let my daughters have a blog. Please keep evolving in your learning and writing and please keep sharing so we can witness your validation.

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  32. Great Post Sarah Almed.I Like your Blog. Check my blog about Blogging here.

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  33. Sarah, thanks for sharing and inspiring. I intend to share your blog with my students to show them that it really is possible to post and entertain and .... grow. Keep up the good work and I will checking out your blog often.

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  34. Very inspirational. it helps me to motivated to help my fellow students to blog and to write something that they like. Thanks for sharing!

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