In my very first post on this blog, I mentioned that when my students work on their blogs, the classroom becomes very, very quiet. Well, I have noticed some interesting changes. Quite often now, the silence is interrupted by whispers and comments which develop into a semi-coherent conversation about the topic they are currently writing about. (I should mention that at this point the whole class is writing about a specific period in history by commenting on articles, books, interviews, and other texts thematically related to this period. They are generating the course content by locating these relevant texts and then writing about them). I find it fascinating that they have started to verbalize their thoughts. Writing is thus accompanied by conversations, usually with one or two friends. These conversations are far from distracting. Students talk quietly and their exchanges lead to more writing. These short in-class conversations enhance their written responses and have a big impact on the number of comments that the students post in response to the work of their friends. Their conversations often consist of the following:
"Have you read what I wrote about your article?" "Did you see my comment to your comment?" "I'm writing about your entry now." "O.K. I'll read it when I finish commenting on his." "I'm writing about yours next."
This produces more interaction among students in the form of comments or posts that focus on content generated by their friends. As a result, students quickly become aware of a variety of texts that are being generated online. They benefit from their own contributions but also actively participate in, comment on, and refer to course content generated by their friends.