- Allison Berryhill, an English and journalism teacher at Atlantic High School in Iowa, taps into passion blogging to allow students to choose topics they care deeply about to explore in their writing, finding it helps them develop stronger writing skills, she writes in Edutopia.
- The voice — or passion — students express is weighted in the grading of the blog posts, and Berryhill meets with students to talk about how they can improve on what they’ve written.
- Students then take skills developed through blogging, such as the ability to analyze texts, and apply them to other assignments, including more formal examinations of books like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”
Giving students a chance to write about their passions can help engage them not only in writing, but in what they’re learning as a whole. Research suggests when given the opportunity to write more about subjects that interest them, students tend to “invest more of themselves in the process.”
The opportunity to invest their writing time in a subject that fuels their interests can also help students build important skills they need in their education, from critical thinking to analysis. Previous research points out a deep knowledge of a subject "is essential before students can analyze, evaluate or synthesize." A student passionate about a topic likely knows a great deal about the subject, and that is a crucial first step before moving on to making connections and critically analyzing a subject, and applying those skills to other subjects, as well.
Curriculum designers may want to look at using journal writing as one method of engaging students in topics they care about or have a passion to explore. A 2006 paper found journal assignments helped students make sense of what they were learning, rather than just memorize a topic, which promoted more critical thinking skills.
Poetry slams, like those held by the Sharon Public Schools in Massachusetts, or spoken word assignments, used by teachers at schools including the Academy of American Studies in New York City, are other ways educators can help channel students and their passions into writing.
Allowing students to choose their writing topics may then not only help bring about more impassioned assignments, but in the end also spark the development of crucial learning skills — all while letting students share what they love.