Learning activities need to be authentic. Students are more engaged when learning relates to real life. Writing for teachers, or perhaps your peers, gets old -- even for 4th and 5th graders. The Internet, particularly blogs, allows all individuals to write with an authentic audience, which is highly motivating. Our project began by students brainstorming a list of inventions. The inventions were placed into brackets (think NCAA March Madness), which you can see to the right.

Getting Started

Students then selected an invention through a lottery. A prewriting handout helped students structure their paragraphs. The expected parts of a persuasive paragraph included: topic sentence, three details/reasons of support, a concession, a rebuttal, and a closing sentence. Because we wanted to maintain some control of the blog, students wrote their paragraphs and then emailed to us or typed them into the blog as a draft. Here are two students samples.

Student Sample 1


For a first shot at a project, it was a tremendous success. The students were engaged and motivated. They absolutely glowed when they received feedback from people around the world. Students were voluntarily working on the project at home. It was an enjoyable experience.

A true reflection needs to look beyond what went well. There were a few issues that need to be resolved before we proceed with this project again. One problem was that some of the voting bordered on not being constructive. A second issue was time. We started with 64 inventions, but we ran out of time to crown an absolute winner.

Students learned and were engaged. We felt good about this project. We'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions.

Student Sample 2


Once the students had their writing posted, they needed to have voters. Votes were solicited through email to fellow teachers and administrators, but more importantly, through the use of #comments4kids hashtag on Twitter. This hashtag is designed for helping students find "real" people to comment on their work. We received votes from teachers in rooms next door to us to as far away as Malaysia. The feedback was wonderful and inspiring for the students (and us). Some samples of the feedback is listed below.