Miranda's presentationMa, Sin I (Miranda). (2009, Oct. 27. Web-blogging in ESL writing: Weaving a class into a community. Saline Room, Student Center, SIUC. Based on class weblog at http://f09ling101.blogspot.com.
Miranda's presentation was well-attended; the room held only about twenty, but there were people leaning on the wall behind the last row, so it was standing-room only and crowded. She had put her students in charge of making assignments and then basically turned them loose, allowing for a freer environment and lots of lively exchange. When asked whether it improved their more formal writing, she said that it did clearly make them more fluent; they write more and without worrying as much about the outcome. She was asked how they were graded, and how they were put in groups; she was asked if she gave corrective feedback in a public place. When she said that she had berated them a little for making so many typos, they complained that they didn't capitalize "I", for example, because they were used to typing on Word, which always did it for them. The weblog was therefore a rawer, more informal environment, and they just accepted that for what it was and wrote a lot. One teacher, L.H., even commented that the blog could thus be used to wean them from dependence on spell-check.
She was asked if a teacher who set up a blog had more of a burden, and she agreed that she did; but, she thought it was worth it. I don't include all her answers here because I didn't take very accurate notes. But, what interested me was that there was great interest from the community in what she did. People remained leaning on the walls throughout the presentation. Good job, Miranda!