Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blogging helps encourage teen writing

Edited and excerpted from eSchool News and wire service reports

Survey reveals that student bloggers are more prolific and appreciate the value of writing more than their peers

A ne survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project explores the intersection between teens, technology, and writing.

Buried beneath the alarm of writing "purists," (who are not happy with the text messaging shorthand creeping into English class) the report showed a promising finding with equally important implications for schools: Blogging is helping many teens become more prolific writers.

Teens who communicate frequently with their friends with technology tools do not write more often for less gadget-rich teens, according to the study. Teen bloggers, however, write more frequently both online and offline, the study says.

Forty-seven percent of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more, compared with 33 percent of teens without blogs. Sixty-five percent of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53 percent of non-bloggers say the same thing.

Bradley A. Hammer, who teaches in Duke University's writing program, says the kind of writing students do on blogs and other digital formats actually can be better than the writing style they learn in school, because it is better suited to true intellectual pursuit than is SAT-style writing.

"In real ways, blogging and other forms of virtual debate actually foster the very types of intellectual exchange, analysis, and argumentative writing that universities value," he wrote in an op-ed piece last August.

Teens write for a variety of reasons, the report notes: as part of a school assignment, to stay in touch with friends, to share their artistic creations with others, or simply to record their thoughts. Teens say they're more motivated to write when they can choose topics that are relevant to their lives and interests, and they report greater enjoyment of school writing when they have the chance to write creatively. Teens also report that writing for an audience motivates them to write well and more frequently--and blogs are one way of providing this type of audience.

The telephone-based survey of 700 U.S. residents ages 12 to 17 and their parents was conducted last year from Sept. 19 to Nov. 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Maybe this summer I can talk my teen into guest blogging or starting her on blog on something of intellectual interest like the South Lake Dragon High School Football heroes.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach

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