YES! Blogging does help improve student reading, writing and communication!
Using the I-Search Process I discovered I really wanted to know more about using blogs in the classroom.
Blogs can be used to compare and contrast modern day with literature of another century. Blogs are useful for students who are not comfortable speaking out in class but discover their voices in writing using authentic texts like blogs. Blogs may be used for book reviews or responding to books, or to get questions answered on projects, to collaborate, etc. (Of course Google Docs also allows for collaboration too.)
When students know what they are writing will be read by their peers (rather than just the teacher) their writing improves, especially if there is modeling and guidance as to what is acceptable to the class as community and teacher.
When they write for a purpose and with an audience in mind (according to the Stanford Study of Writing) they enjoy writing and write much more. Students at Stanford who were interviewed for the study stated that “academic writing was soulless.” (NOT authentic to them!) Blogs areauthentic texts, and authenticity is what students desire. They read more because they must read the blogs of peers or research more in order to answer a question, or provide a thoughtful response, and when they read more, they read better, and when they write more their writing improves and yes, yes, yes, so their communication improves too!
I am so excited at the prospect of using blogs with students, and working with teachers to do the same!