An Update on Classroom Blogging

Initial post about using WordPress/Blogging/Feedly in the classroom

Several weeks ago, I discussed my desire to have my students begin blogging in the classroom.  My plan was to have them create their own WordPress accounts and write both creatively and academically, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The school year is only 3 weeks old now and I have successfully assigned two blog postings.

Blog Assignments:

  1. “Convince Me” Final Draft
    1. Students will participate in a Think-Pair-Share in order to create a list of the characteristics of a convincing argument.
    2. Students will share out their responses to create a master list of all the characteristics.
    3. Students will read a sample argument essay in which the major parts are labeled.
    4. Students will create their own definitions of the parts of an argument essay based on the samples and their purposes.
    5. Students will respond to the following prompt: I am a flexible teacher, so if I hear a convincing argument for something, I will give it genuine consideration. I typically assign homework three days a week. Write a one-paragraph argument that attempts to convince me to cancel assigning homework for Eng IV.  Alternative: You may like homework, so you can argue for why it should still be assigned.
    6. Students spent three days between peer editing, reading samples and grading them, and studying other argument essays before writing their final draft that is uploaded to their blog as their first posting.
  2. “To This Day” Inspired Poem
    1. In our synthesis essay unit entitled “Haters Gonna Hater,” I had students read multiple texts from various genres that all dealt with bullying.  One poem that was included in this unit was “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan.  There’s a fantastic rendition, in addition to the TEDTalk, of “To This Day” that you can watch here.  
    2. Students worked with “Arm Partners” (someone that is within arm’s length of their original seat) to read through the printed version of “To This Day” and they completed a Close-Reading analysis.
    3. After sharing their analysis with their partners, students watched the video version of “To This Day.”  This is the version we watched:
    4. Students were asked to discuss the specific writing choices that were made that separated this poem from others they had read.
    5. Finally, students were asked to write their own versions of “To This Day” in which they mimicked Koyczan’s style.  The topic was bullying.  Their poems had to be 10 stanzas with a minimum of 6 lines each.  This poem was posted on their blogs.

J. Peterman Enters the Classroom

I have been searching online for creative solutions for my students to practice developing Voice in their writing.  As I began diving deeper into the depths of the internet, I came across what I believe to be the very best lesson plan that could have ever been developed for implementing the skills required to show a strong voice.  It comes from the WritingFix website that is devoted to the 6-Trait Writing program.

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The lesson that I will be implementing is

Inventing Stories for your Favorite Clothes

voice techniques borrowed from a very unique clothing catalogue

This original lesson was created by NNWP Teacher ConsultantDena Harrison. You can access all of Dena’s on-line lessons by visiting her teacher website.

The J. Peterman Clothing Catalogue is famous for its well-written descriptions of the clothes and accessories they sell.  Each item is given its own unique history through crafted writing descriptions, often involving stories and memories that are associated with what’s for sale.  After studying this famous catalogue’s wonderful descriptions and story-telling for its clothing items or accessories, students will impersonate the voice of the catalogue for an item they would like to sell.

I have to be honest, when I watched episodes of Seinfeld that featured Elaine Benes working for the J. Peterman catalog, I thought it was a fictional entity created solely for the television show.


  My naive and unworldly  mind was blown when I followed the link to the actual J. Peterman website!  The descriptions for the clothing and accessory pieces blew my mind!  I chose a few that I will feature as “anchor texts” for my students, but below are many many of my favorites!


Jersey Comfort Nightgown Party Dress Purse