Blogging for English: A Guide to Better Grades
Technology is the future of education. We’ve come out of the lockdowns knowing some words like the back of our hand: Zoom, Google Classrooms, Kahoot, Quizlet. So, why don’t we add the word “blog” to that list? Why aren’t we using blogs to improve our English studies?
I’ve always believed in the power of a good blog. I mean, Shani’s Tutoring isn’t my first or even second one! In A-level media studies, we all set one up for our portfolio. It then inspired me to keep going! I made a personal blog and a revision blog for history. Then, I made one on ShanniiWrites, which has seen a fair bit of success. I would vouch for blogging in English until the end of time.
Then, I came across a great article from the English and Media Centre on why blogging is so useful in the English classroom. It worked very well for one teacher’s year 7 class! They would react to a poem or text they had read on their class blog. It was amazing to see that the texts’ writers even joined in sometimes!
That made me realise that my dreams did make sense. Blogs can be a huge asset in English class, and I’m ready to prove it.
This huge guide on the benefits of blogging will help you to see the benefits. So, keep reading to find out why it’s such an amazing thing to do!
Table of contents
- What Makes Blogging So Good for English?
- Blogging Encourages You to Get Personal With Your English Texts
- It Makes Your Notes Easier to Search For Later
- Blogs are Collaborative: You Can Ask Classmates to Comment
- They Give Shy Students a Voice
- People Can Benefit From Each Other’s Blogs
- Blogging Helps to Switch to a Flipped Classroom
- It’s Easy to Link to Useful Pages and Sites
- You Can Add Other Kinds of Media
- It Makes Studying Anthologies Much Easier
- There’s Less Risk of Losing or Destroying a Blog Post
- Editing is Really Easy
- You Get Typing Practice
- You Can Track Your Progress
- How to Blog for the Best Results
- Find a Good Blogging Platform
- Don’t Beat Around the Bush – Just Start Writing!
- Write Posts About Your First Reactions to the Text
- Write a Post For Each Theme in a Text
- Make Posts About Historical and Author Context
- Explain New Subject Terminology in Your Own Words
- Use Tags and Categories to Sort Your Blog Posts
- Link to Related Posts
- Update Old Blog Posts With New Links
- Ask a Teacher or Tutor to Look at Your Work
- Ask Friends to Read and Comment
- Why the Shani’s Tutoring Forum is a Great Place to Blog
- You Don’t Have to Start a New Blog From Scratch
- I Have Loads of Ways to Help You Meet Your Reading Goals!
- I Am Always Checking the Forums, so I Comment on Your Posts
- My Moderators and I Will Help With Organisation
- I Have a Great Search Function
- I’ve Got the Glossary Covered For You
- I Provide Unseen Texts For You to Comment On
- You Will Be Able to Collaborate with Other Students
What Makes Blogging So Good for English?
So, why are blogs so good? What makes them useful for English in particular? Why can’t we just stick to the good, old-fashioned pen and paper? I mean, I’ve recommended folders before, right? Surely, they’re good enough?
Sure, folders are great for in-school lessons. I’ll even admit that an exercise book can be good – if used well. However, in the long run, I really think we need to embrace the blog post.
People have spent years writing book reviews on their blogs, so why aren’t we using that to inspire us in English class? There are so many reasons why they work so well.
Here are some of the most important ones.
Blogging Encourages You to Get Personal With Your English Texts
Once you’ve read the same text 20 times for your exam, it can often be hard to remember what it felt like to read it for the first time. That makes it difficult to write about the reader’s thoughts and feelings!
Writing about the reader’s reaction is so important, though. It shows the examiner that you understand how the writer uses words to affect us. It’s the most important question in the whole of the subject.
Blog posts can help you to remember what it felt like to read an English text for the first time. Track your thoughts and feelings in your post as you read. That way, you can go back and refresh yourself when you’re revising.
That’s great practice for your GCSE English Language exam, too. Let’s look at AQA Paper 1 Question 3. It asks you to write about how the text is structured to interest the reader. Basically, they want you to think about how the writer orders the events, information and ideas to make the reader think and feel certain things.
So, blog posts can help you to get used to that. Practice breaking the story down into chunks and explaining your thoughts at each point. If you do that enough, those kinds of questions will be a breeze for you.
English isn’t just about learning what a metaphor is. It’s about finding out how people respond to the words they read. Blog posts will help you to track that.
It Makes Your Notes Easier to Search For Later
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted looking for a great note I wrote.
I’ll hear a teacher or lecturer say something amazing and write it down. Then, a few months later, I’ll remember writing the note and go back to find it. I know it will help me with the essay I’m writing, but I can’t remember the point properly. I just have a vague memory of it.
Or maybe I thought of the point on my own and made a note of it so that I won’t forget.
Either way, my problem is that I have thousands of pages of notes all about my house. Some are on my laptop. Others are in a folder. If I think of something on the go, I’ll even write it on my phone’s notes app. They’re everywhere!
That makes it so hard to find. First of all, I didn’t have a centralised area to collect everything. However, even if I knew I wrote it in a particular folder or book, that’s still hundreds of pages to sort through. Not easy.
Technology is a huge help there. I can search my laptop for a word or phrase, and I’ll find it in seconds.
When it comes to blogs, there are lots of helpful features! You have tags, categories and the site’s search bar. Plus, you can recruit other people to help you look.
Blogs are Collaborative: You Can Ask Classmates to Comment
There’s so much more to English than writing essays on your own. You need to bounce ideas off classmates, have debates and read other people’s work. That’s why I offer group classes as well as my one-to-ones.
Believe it or not, teachers don’t have all the answers. We know a hell of a lot, don’t get me wrong! We can help you to learn new words and discover new ideas. However, we don’t have every thought in the world. This isn’t maths. If a teacher claims a student has never given them a new idea, they’re lying to you.
You can’t think of every interpretation of a text on your own. You need to discuss ideas with friends, classmates, teachers, tutors and even family members. That’s how you’re going to squeeze every ounce of analysis out of a text. Books mean different things to different people. That’s the beauty of them.
That’s why blogs are so good in English! It’s not just your teacher who looks at them. Anyone can contribute. It’s not about “marking” your work. It’s about commenting on what you said, asking questions and encouraging you to think a different way!
Once someone comments on a blog post you’ve made, you can then reply. Do you agree with them? Did they say something you’ve never thought of before? Or maybe you think they need to rethink their ideas. As long as it’s respectful, discussion is always useful.
They Give Shy Students a Voice
I’ve been tutoring for a very long time now. In that time, I’ve come across many shy students.
The sad thing is that they usually have some lovely ideas to share! The problem is that they doubt themselves. They don’t feel like they have the words to say what they want to. They choke up. Or, they just don’t have the confidence to share their thoughts.
English is all about discussion, so having a blog to express yourself can help these shy students.
It gives them time to think through their thoughts and feelings. It allows them to edit and redraft their contributions before they press “publish”. That way, they don’t feel the pressure of blurting out everything all in one go.
Many introverted students appreciate that extra time to think before answering a question.
If a student is really stressed about sharing their ideas, they can even write a post anonymously! That takes even more pressure off their shoulders!
This also helps with students who feel too embarrassed to share their feelings (usually boys). It’s easy to do it when no one knows who you are – when you don’t think your friends will make fun of you.
People Can Benefit From Each Other’s Blogs
I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how your blog might help you. However, what about other people? Can their blogs help you? Can your work help them? Of course!
We usually lose our exercise books pretty soon after we’re done with them. In fact, I found a year 12 book tucked away in my attic just last week! I haven’t looked at it since 2014.
It’s sad because those books have so much value. Our notes and blog ideas can help future people with their English exams. You can look at the work of older students to help you, too! Sharing your work on a blog post means it continues to help other people for years to come. So, why don’t we do it more often?
The internet is full of this kind of information sharing. People set up blogs, contribute to Wikipedia and educate each other on social media. Most just do it out of the kindness of their hearts. For others? They might ask for donations or set up some other way to earn a bit of money.
Many of us spend a great deal of time making amazing notes. Don’t let them just disappear once you’re done with them! Put them in a blog post to help someone else. You could even help your pocket, too!
Blogging Helps to Switch to a Flipped Classroom
The flipped classroom is my favourite way to teach older students. It saves time and helps people to get used to university-style learning. Plus, it means I can focus every second of our class time on things they couldn’t have done on their own. I can add as much value to their education as possible.
They worked so well during the lockdowns, too. There’s no point in getting students to sit on Zoom and read a book. Instead, teachers make them do it for homework. You can use the zoom classes to discuss and analyse the text.
On the other hand, the biggest problem with the flipped classroom is accountability – especially for younger students. If your homework is just to read a chapter, how can you prove to your teacher that you did it? How can your teacher call out the students who didn’t and protect themselves against angry parents?
Well, that’s what makes blog posts so great. Each time you read a chapter of a book, you write down your thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t need to be long. 300 words will work just fine. Then, you can point your teacher to your post. There’s your proof that you did the work.
The flipped classroom with blog posts help you to be a more independent English student. That’s what you’ll have to get used to at uni, so why not start now?
It’s Easy to Link to Useful Pages and Sites
There’s nothing worse than losing a good resource. I find this great site that I know will help me in class. I keep the tab on the side and tell myself I’ll come back to it.
However, by the time I remember that I want to use it, it’s been months. Then, it’s a wild dash of history-searching and typing nonsensical sentences into Google to try to get it again.
If not that, then it’s the fact that I have way too many bookmarks to sort through.
Blogging is a great solution to this.
Now, when I find a good link, I paste it into a draft post with a relevant title. I don’t need to publish the post straight away! Of course not! I can just open up my blogging software and dump it in there for later.
Then, when I’m ready to write the blog post, I can link to the sites I found and explain how they help me in English class. I can edit old posts with new links if I want to. I don’t need to post something new every time I find a good resource.
This has the benefit of helping me to sort through my thoughts. I link to sites when they are relevant. It’s not just an endless list of bookmark links.
Plus, I can help other people, too! They’ll click on the links to help their own work. That will give the site owner more traffic, too. It’s a win-win-win!
You Can Add Other Kinds of Media
There are so many good YouTube videos and images out there, too. Heck, even a GIF can help you to study!
You might be able to put a picture in your exercise book or folder. However, you can’t do that for a video. So, you don’t get to put it with that perfect section in your work.
When I was doing my PGCE, I learnt about this thing called “dual coding”. Basically, you don’t learn so well when you just read a book or listen to a teacher. It’s always good for your eyes to be engaged, too. So, if you combine the two, you are much more likely to remember the information.
These cues aren’t just videos or pictures, either! They can be graphs, charts, knowledge organisers or anything else! As long as it’s challenging you to learn the information in a different (less wordy) way.
Blogs posts are the perfect place for dual coding. You read the information on the post, but the writer might also include visual cues to help it sink into your mind.
In class, a teacher can put a video up on the board for you to watch. Their PowerPoint presentations can have lots of pictures, too.
However, it’s not so easy with revision. That’s where blogging can help. You dual code for yourself by embedding videos and pictures!
It Makes Studying Anthologies Much Easier
When it comes to anthologies, taking notes can be quite hard.
Most of the time, the anthology section of your exams will ask you to compare 2 or more texts. For GCSE English Literature, you have to compare 2 poems. The same is true for prose texts in many A-level and BETC courses.
You can make thousands of comparisons between the texts in an anthology. So, unless you’re writing pages and pages of notes on which texts you’d compare, you won’t be able to get them all down.
With blogging, though, things are much easier.
All you have to do is link one blog post about a text in your English anthology to another. After all, hyperlinks aren’t just for other sites! It is a good idea to link posts so that they connect with one another.
Let’s say you write a post about the theme of “family” in the anthology poem. Make a subheading about another poem that uses the theme and bullet point the similarities and differences. Link to your post on the other poem where you go into more detail. Done. You can’t do that with an exercise book.
People could also point out the links to other poems in the comments! They can link for you!
There’s Less Risk of Losing or Destroying a Blog Post
Have you ever lost an exercise book at school? Or maybe your water bottle leaked, and all the ink on the pages began to run?
When you’re a GCSE or A-level student, this small mistake can cause a whole lot of stress. It is a nightmare.
You can’t spill a drink on your blog post. You might spill it on your laptop or computer, which could cost a lot of money! However, that’s not the same thing. You can go to a library to work. Your post will still be there when you need it.
These days, blogging software has many great features to make sure you never lose your work:
- Autosave for when your computer randomly restarts itself, or your browser crashes.
- A trash bin for when you accidentally delete a post.
- Version history or revision functions that allow you to turn back the clock on your post.
- Backup files.
There is plenty that you can do to make sure you don’t lose your post. Once you press “publish”, your post is a lot more permanent than a piece of paper – unless you want to take it back or edit it. You can absolutely do that, too.
If all else fails, you can always check the Wayback Machine to see if it made a copy of your work.
There are lots of options for you. No more losing your work for good!
Editing is Really Easy
When you’ve been staring at a piece of work for hours, it can be hard to find the mistakes.
Trust me! I might be an English teacher, but almost all my blog posts have had typos in them. It’s not because I don’t proofread! It’s just that, after a while, my brain starts to read what I meant to say instead of what’s really there.
I was a bit of a perfectionist at school. I hated it when I had a page filled with my neatest handwriting, just to have to cross out a line or two. Once you put that ink to the paper, the mistake is there, whether you like it or not. All you can do is cover it up. Well, unless you have a Frixion pen, of course.
That’s not the case with a blog post. You can always go back and edit it later. Plus, you have things like Grammarly to help you make sure you get it all right. Check the reasons why Grammarly has made the suggestion to improve your grammar in the future.
This is great because it means you can correct yourself in real-time. It doesn’t look messy, and you don’t have to waste any paper.
Plus, your comments will often help you to see your mistakes. Your teacher or your fellow students could get involved. It will help you to learn from your mistakes.
You Get Typing Practice
When I was doing my PGCE, I was at a placement in an amazing school. The students worked hard and the vocabulary was outstanding. The way they cared for the SEND students meant that they could achieve some great GCSE results, too. Why? Because they made sure to care for every need a student had.
Of course, this meant that teachers would test students to see if they needed a scribe or laptop for exams. There was only one problem, though: some students typed even slower than they wrote!
Why is this the case? Well, subjects like English haven’t really moved with the times very well. We still just read texts and write about them on paper. When do we get time to learn how to navigate an eBook? What about writing an essay and referencing on Microsoft Word?
Students don’t get a whole lot of time to practice typing. They get ICT here and there. Once in a blue moon, a teacher might book a computer suite for them to do their work. That’s not a whole lot of time, though. Considering how much we use computers in the real world, it’s a failure in education.
English blogs will require you to write paragraphs at a time. Each post should be at least 250 words, so that gives you plenty of time to practice typing. That’s a great benefit to you.
Why? Well, if you want to learn how to type super fast, you need to practice.
You Can Track Your Progress
When I look back at my old blog posts, I feel so proud.
I mean, look at my first post on ShanniiWrites! It’s full of chunky paragraphs that aren’t so easy to read. The ideas were all there, but I didn’t know how to write them down in an internet-friendly way.
Now, my posts are a lot more lively. I’ve started using more pictures. That helps with dual coding and helps to make my posts more light-hearted. My tone is friendlier. I consider my audience more.
If you blog for English class, you can also track how much you’ve improved over time!
It might not be about how easy your post is for internet strangers to read. After all, you won’t need to think about SEO as much as I do. However, you will see progress!
You’ll be able to scroll down to the first post you’ve ever made and see how much your work has changed based on these factors:
- How much subject terminology do you use?
- Do you use quotes and analysis to explain why you think and feel that way?
- How precise are those quotes?
- Is your vocabulary wide and varied?
- Do you have relevant historical context?
Yes, you can do the same thing with an exercise book. However, can you also sort that book by type of written work? Can you look at just your essays or your creative writing? Nope! You can with a blog!
How to Blog for the Best Results
By this point, if I haven’t convinced you that blog posts are the way forward in English, nothing will. I’ve given all of my best reasons why blogging works so well. So, let’s move on to how you can set everything up and start posting.
It isn’t that hard to do this well. All you need is some patience, time and a good guide to get you through. I can give you the last one. The other two are up to you!
Your blog is your personal space. You can make it look however you like. When I was doing media studies at school, my first piece of A-level homework was to make my portfolio look personal to me.
Plus, you don’t just get to choose how it looks. You also get to develop your own writing style and navigation. You choose what matters to you.
The best thing is that it will prepare you for the future, too! I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my media portfolio! You get to develop your skills in making a type of post that is very popular today! It can make you a lot of money – once you’re used to the format!
Here are some great tips on how you can make a blog that will help you with your English studies.
Find a Good Blogging Platform
The first thing you need to do is look for a good platform. There are loads of great ones out there!
I am using WordPress for both this site and ShanniiWrites. It’s super powerful and allows me to customise everything I need to. Since I can download useful plugins, I can create a whole membership site full of useful things to help you with your English studies!
The chances are, you’re not going to need all of these functions. However, WordPress is still a great option because it has a tier where you can create a blog for free! That’s all you need to start with. That’s how I started with ShanniiWrites, in fact! You can then scale up if you want to.
There are other options that work just fine, too!
I started my media portfolio on the Google service called “Blogger”. It’s much more simple than WordPress, so it’s easier to understand. Just like before, it’s free!
Then, there’s Medium. It’s beautiful, free and easy to use.
Wix is also a lovely option that doesn’t cost any money. Squarespace does charge you, so I’d avoid it when you start out.
Have a look at all the options you have. These are my recommendations, but there are others out there! Experiment with them. Choose one that suits your tastes and get started!
Don’t Beat Around the Bush – Just Start Writing!
Of course, once you’ve found your service, the next step is to set up. You’ll think about the theme and style. What colours will you use? What will you put in your menu? How will you organise your posts?
Then, you’ll write the “about” section. You’ll need to explain that this is a blog for your English studies. You’ll write a little about what texts you’re studying and how you feel about the subject. Make sure that you don’t reveal any personal information, though! After all, it’s important to stay safe on the internet.
Ok, now you’ve got all of that out of the way. You’re going to want to make your first post, right? But what are you going to write about?
Some people like to start with an introduction. They explain the purpose of the blog again and run through how they’re going to post. I don’t like that approach.
It’s just not necessary. If your “about” section is good enough, you don’t need an intro, too. It gets repetitive.
The most important reason, though, is that it serves no purpose. You don’t need an intro post to help you revise. It’s not like you’ll go back and enjoy reading it. Other people won’t find any use to it either. It’s pointless, so cut it out.
Just start writing about your texts.
Write Posts About Your First Reactions to the Text
The first type of post you should make is a reaction post. This will give you a chance to record your thoughts and feelings when reading the text.
Ideally, you’d do this after the first time you read a section of the text. However, that’s not always possible! After all, you might have already read the whole of your set text before you came across this post. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about your reactions.
As I said earlier on, reaction posts are super useful. They help you to understand the reader’s thoughts and feelings. That’s one of the most important things to consider when doing your English exams!
We don’t write about texts for the sake of it. We try to figure out what the writer was trying to say and how they use their writing to impact the reader. So, if you miss out this stage, you miss out the whole point of the subject.
Plus, it’s great practice for AQA GCSE Language Paper 1 Question 3.
Here’s a short guide on how to write a reaction post.
Split the Text Into Small Sections
Open up your set text. Read the first section. This could be a chapter, a section, or even just one page!
For example, let’s look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. If I’m reading Chapter One, lots of things happen. Because of that, my thoughts and feelings are bound to change over the course of the chapter. So, I should write down the different events.
These events look something like this:
- We get a description of the Dursleys and their boring life.
- Mr Dursley makes his way to work and starts to see strange things happen.
- He has lunch. Someone hugs him and mentions Voldemort for the first time.
- Mr Dursley goes home and sees the news reporting strange things, too.
- He asks his wife about her family. We learn that they are strange people.
- Dumbledore appears on the road. McGonagall turns from a cat into a woman. They talk.
- Hagrid arrives on a flying motorbike with a baby.
- They leave Harry on the Dursleys’ doorstep.
So, you can write about eight things that happened in the chapter. If you want, you can split it into even smaller events. I’ve just given you the bare bones.
Once you’ve done this, you can turn to your thoughts and feelings.
Think About Your Thoughts and Feelings in the Section You’ve Read
So, you’ve thought of the events that happened in the section you’re writing about. Now, it’s time to consider your thoughts and feelings during each of these events.
For each of the events in the section that you read, try to answer these questions:
- How did you feel when you were reading the event? (I was shocked when the cat turned into a woman)
- Why did you feel this way? (Turning from a cat to a person must be some sort of magic spell, and I wasn’t expecting magic to happen so early on)
- What were you thinking when reading the event? (I thought that Dumbledore is a strange person)
- Why did you think that? (He is dressed very strangely and seems to be very happy even though two people died)
- What did you think would happen next? (I think the Dursleys won’t treat Harry very well)
- Why do you think this will happen? (because they didn’t like his parents. They don’t seem to like anything weird or unusual. Plus, Dudley seems like a spoilt brat. I don’t think he’d want to share anything with his cousin)
Of course, you might not be able to answer those questions for each event. However, do your best. The more you think about your thoughts and feelings during these events, the easier it will be to write your blog post.
Start Writing the Reaction Blog Post
Now, it’s time to actually start writing.
You should only write about one section/chapter/scene per blog post. Don’t go over that, if you can. That will help you to sort through your blog easier. Each chapter will have its own post, so you can click directly on that when you want to revise.
to write a good reaction blog post, there are a few things you should do.
- The first paragraph should be a general summary of what happened in the whole chapter/section. This should be between 30 and 75 words. Keep it short. You’ll go into detail about the events.
- Start a new paragraph every time you talk about a new event. For each event, explain what happened in detail. Then, discuss your thoughts and feelings. Tell us why you felt/thought that way.
- In your final paragraphs, talk about what you think will happen next. Explain why you think this.
If you want to improve the quality, you can also talk about the setting and characters. Explain who was likeable and who wasn’t. Tell us how the setting made you feel and why.
For students aiming for the top grades, talk about the writer’s intentions. Why did they include these events? Why are these characters likeable or unlikeable? What is the purpose of the setting in this chapter/section?
That’s it! You’ve done your first reaction post! Press “publish”!
Write a Post For Each Theme in a Text
For an English study blog, writing about a text’s themes is extremely important.
What is a theme? Well, it’s an idea or message that appears throughout a text. Some examples include:
- Religion vs Science
- The Supernatural
- Appearance vs Reality
Every single text you study in English will have lots of different themes. The same goes for films and TV shows, too! In fact, all art is full of themes!
Almost all essay questions in English literature ask you to talk about a specific theme. The exception would be the character or setting questions, but even they rely on themes, too! So, it’s essential you get the hang of them.
So, write a blog post for each one.
The main topic of the post should be “What does [writer] say about [theme]?” Make sure you write a least three things that the writer says about it.
For a great example, let’s take Encanto. What do the writers say about family?
- Strong family bonds are a form of magic.
- Trauma can be passed down and cause strains on families.
- If you are obsessed with keeping up your image, you can lose sight of what matters.
- It is important to value all members of the family.
- Talking to each other and showing compassion can solve issues.
Now, quote from the text to give evidence of each of the things the writer “says”. Analyse your quotes. Explain how that impacts the reader. Done!
Make Posts About Historical and Author Context
If you want to get good grades, you need to talk about the historical context of your set texts.
Of course, you won’t be asked to know the history of any of the unseen texts. However, for the ones you read in class? You need to know what was going on when the writer was writing.
There are plenty of different factors that could influence a writer’s text. This content will also help to shape how the reader reacts to the text, too! In your written notes, it can be quite hard
That’s why blog posts can be such a good help for keeping your English notes together.
First of all, you write a description of the context in your own words and publish it as a post on its own. Then, whenever you talk about how this context might have influenced the writer or reader, you can link back to what you wrote about the events. Easy!
Be careful, though. Using historical context in English is a balancing act. I can teach both subjects, and I can’t tell you how many English essays I’ve marked that look more like history essays.
You need to make sure you lead with the text. Tell us what the writer’s message is, and then use historical context to explain why that would be their message. Don’t do it the other way around.
If you’re aiming for the top grades, consider how reader reactions might change over time, too.
Explain New Subject Terminology in Your Own Words
Subject terminology is another great thing you can blog about.
There are so many words in English class that you should know. Simile, metaphor, iambic pentameter… it can be intense!
If you’re writing in an exercise book or folder, a great way to keep track of all these words is with a glossary section. It will help you to sort through the words you need to know and turn back to them when you need to.
It’s even easier on a blog, though! All you need to do is write a post about it! Then, you can use the search function to find the word again! Plus, you can use your categories and filter options to search through subject terminology in alphabetical order. That’s not so easy in a folder or book, is it?
Make sure you start with a definition of the term in your own words. This is important because it means you’d understand it when you come back to it.
Plus, it will help your teacher, too! If you just repeat some dictionary definition of the term, they don’t know if you really get it. If you can write about it in your own words, that means you understand it fully. It also means it’s easier for them to correct you if you’re wrong.
Then, give some examples. Take some from your set texts. Make the others up on your own. That way, you can notice and recreate it.
Use Tags and Categories to Sort Your Blog Posts
Make sure your blog is easy to navigate for English revision. You do this by using categories and tags the right way! That way, you can just click on a text to see everything you wrote about it. It’s kind like dividers in a folder!
If you don’t know the difference between categories and tags, wpbeginner has a great guide.
Here are the categories I recommend for a GCSE student:
- One for each of your set texts (e.g. Macbeth, Jekyll and Hyde, and An Inspector Calls).
- Unseen prose. This will come in handy when you have to read a text you’ve never seen before, like in AQA Language Paper 1.
- Unseen non-fiction. This is for Language Paper 2.
- Poetry anthology.
- Fiction writing.
- Non-fiction writing.
- Subject terminology (or glossary).
These are the basic ones that every English GCSE student needs. You might come up with your own. Or, you might use some subcategories to make things easier. For example, you might make a subcategory for each text in your anthology!
It is going to look different if you’re an A-level or IB student, of course.
After this, make tags for each of the types of blog posts you might write for English:
- Historical Context
- Character Study
- Essay Planning
- Feedback Response
Link to Related Posts
Blog posts are not meant to stand on their own. They’re supposed to link to one another to create a chain! After all, you can’t cover everything you want to talk about in one post!
So, don’t forget to link to other things you’ve written. In fact, you can even link to things other people have written in their own blogs! That way, you know where to go if you want to find out more.
Let’s take this guide as an example.
I touch on other subjects I’ve written about before. I talk about things like how I recommend folders.
While these things are a little bit related to the topic, they aren’t 100% relevant. So, if you come here to learn how to blog for English class, you’ll feel like I’m saying a bunch of nonsense.
Instead, each topic gets its own post. Then, I can link them together very easily! If people want to learn more about that topic, they’re free to click on the link. If not, they can stick to what they’re reading right now. I’m giving them options.
The same is true for you. If you’re writing a reader reaction post, you will want to bring up historical context. However, you don’t want to get bogged down in explaining the event!
So, just link to a post where you talk about it in detail. If you need to refresh your memory, you can go to that post. If not, you can keep reading. Done.
Update Old Blog Posts With New Links
When you first start your blog, you won’t have a lot of things to link to. Maybe other sites! You might even link this site! There’s not a lot of your own writing that you can connect, though.
As you write more, you’ll see that many posts start to link together. That one you wrote on the Gunpower Plot helps to explain why Shakespeare makes regicide such a serious crime in Macbeth, for example. You’ll want to link them together.
It’s easy for us to do that in future posts, right? I mean, you’ve now written about your set text 7 times. When you write your 8th post, you can pull up an old post and make a link, right?
But don’t forget about your old posts! They will have links to the newer ones that shouldn’t be ignored, either. You need to go back and make new links in old writing.
This will make revision so much easier for you later on. You want to make sure each article flows into the other with ease. That includes the old ones! That way, you’ll get a full picture of the text or topic.
Plus, it’s a form of revision on its own! You have to read through your old posts to find where to add the links. As you go, you’ll relearn the things you wrote before!
Ask a Teacher or Tutor to Look at Your Work
I mentioned this when I explained how to use English subject terminology in your blogs, but let me say it in more detail. If a teacher or tutor looks at your work, it is an asset to you.
It is essential that teachers read your work and test you as much as they can. This will help them to see if you’re confused about anything or if you have any misconceptions.
Sometimes, we get to the right answer using the wrong methods. Any maths teacher can tell you they’ve seen it happen. The student used the wrong method to solve the problem. By a fluke, though, they got the right answer. That won’t work for every problem, though! So, they have to check how you got that answer.
The same is true of English. I’m sure I’ve explained how students accidentally came to an interesting LGBTQ+ interpretation of a text by thinking that people used “gay” the same way in the Victorian period. Thinking the characters were romantically involved was valid, but the way they came to that conclusion wasn’t.
Teachers and tutors can look at your work and find these misconceptions. That will help to boost your grades.
Plus, they can comment on your posts and link you to other interesting things to read. It’s much more down-to-earth and dynamic than seeing red comments in your exercise book. You can’t link useful sites there!
Ask Friends to Read and Comment
English is a subject that benefits from discussion. You get to hear other people’s ideas and bounce off them to see the text in a whole new light. That’s super useful for boosting your grades.
There’s only so much you can learn about a text if you don’t engage with other people’s ideas. As I said before, if a teacher tells you they’ve never had their eyes opened by a student, they’re lying to you.
New ideas come from people who see the world in different ways. That’s why it so important that there’s diversity in universities, too! Women professors will see the world differently from men. Trans people will have unique experiences. The same is true with different races, sexualities and religions! And I’ve only mentioned a few!
So, get your friends involved. Give them a link to your blog. Let them tell you what they agree and disagree with. It will help you to see the text in a whole new light.
If you want to do this well, keep the comments on. Ask people to add their thoughts below your post and do the same to theirs! You’ll create a great discussion space that will even survive a pandemic!
I like to comment online because it gives me time to think. You can read over your work and make sure you’re explaining your idea right before you press “send”. It’s a little less pressure than face-to-face discussions. In my opinion, anyway!
Why the Shani’s Tutoring Forum is a Great Place to Blog
It is a great idea to start an English blog of your own. However, it isn’t the only amazing option! You can use the Shani’s Tutoring Learner Community instead!
If you want to boost your English grades, Shani’s Tutoring is more than just a blog. You also have quizzes, games, guides, courses and much more!
Plus, I’m a qualified teacher who has been tutoring since September 2015. You know that I have a great deal of experience in how to have useful discussions about texts. I’ve even used blogs for English and History revision myself!
I highly recommend that you start chatting about your texts here on Shani’s Tutoring. The Learner Community is a forum where you can share your ideas about a text and do all the things I mentioned above.
Not convinced yet? Let me explain the benefits to you.
You Don’t Have to Start a New Blog From Scratch
Starting a whole blog is fun, but it isn’t for everyone.
Many of the blogging services cost money, which you might not have as a student. Plus, you don’t get all the English revision resources right next to the blog to help you in your studies. If you’re paying for your blog, you probably want to have some helpful English extras to justify the price.
The free blogs are a great option if cost is an issue for you! However, you will still need to sort out how everything looks and feels. As a stressed student, you probably don’t have the time or headspace to make sure each post is in the right category.
Plus, it can be hard to know where to start. Sure, I’ve given you quite a few tips on how to get started right here. However, lots of people might still feel stressed by the whole thing. If that’s you, then don’t worry. There are plenty of options here on this site.
I will be there to guide your blogging every step of the way. In fact, I make new posts on the forums that will ask you to share your thoughts and feelings on the text you’re reading. Plus, as my community grows, you’ll have lots of people to share with!
If you’d like to keep track of your reading process, why not try your own profile? You can update your feed when you smash your goals and complete challenges to keep you motivated!
I Have Loads of Ways to Help You Meet Your Reading Goals!
As well as blogging on the forums, there are loads of other ways to keep track of how much you’ve read for English.
This is a lot freer than the blog-style forums. You can add a quick, small comment about a book you’re reading, and your friends get the chance to comment! If you have a quick question, you can tag me and I’ll see it in my notifications.
Plus, I am always working on new ways to gamify English learning!
Right now, you can earn Ink Points by engaging with the site. You can get one each day when you log on. There are plenty of other ways to get these points, too! For example, you can comment on the forums, complete a quiz, or recommend your friends! The best part is that you can use these points to partially pay for stuff in my shop, too!
Then, there are also achievements. They’re currently in beta and will be coming out as soon as I am comfortable with where they are. You earn badges on your profile every time you read a new book! The more badges you have, the more books you’ve read.
You can use these points and achievements to go up in the ranks! I have a leaderboard that you can choose to check out. After all, competition is a great way to keep motivated!
I Am Always Checking the Forums, so I Comment on Your Posts
It is so valuable to have a teacher check out your blog. They can guide you on further reading or help to clear up any misconceptions you had. The problem is: are they going to read it?
It’s always so easy to get them to check out what you’ve written if they aren’t doing this as a whole-class thing. They might forget or just not feel comfortable doing that. Even then, they might look, but are they going to comment for feedback? There are lots of teachers who just aren’t tech-savvy enough for that.
That’s where the Shani’s Tutoring Forums come in. I’m tech-savvy, and I love to write blogs. Plus, I have experience with starting and running a popular forum for ShanniiWrites. This kind of thing is my bread and butter, and I invite you to join in!
I check the forums each and every day. So, you can tag me in a post or message me if you’re not sure of something. In fact, you can even let me know if you’d like me to write a guide on something to help you learn more! I’m here to respond to your needs!
Plus, the nested comments feature means I can reply to your posts on the Forums without interfering with any new posts. You get to see all the posts other people make on the same section, too!
My Moderators and I Will Help With Organisation
As I said before, I have the categories and tags sorted. That means that Shani’s Tutoring is a lot less work for you than setting up your own English blog.
I check the forums to make sure that everything is in the right place. That makes it easier for you to find what you need when you’re revising for English. I also have some friendly moderators who are around to do the same thing if you need them.
Of course, I will still ask you to use the categories correctly. However, I give you guidance on how you can use them! Plus, I’m not going to flip out if you accidentally put a comment in the wrong place.
The more you engage with the community, the easier it will be for you to use the categories. Then, you can use this new skill to create your own blog when you’re ready.
I am here to answer any questions you have, too! You can message me or tag me in a post. It will go straight to my notifications, and I’ll see it the next time I’m online.
I’m not just helping you to put things in the right place, either. I’m here to make sure the community is a friendly and inclusive place. So, feel free to report a user if they’re saying things that are against the rules. That makes the site more pleasant for everyone!
I Have a Great Search Function
Have you seen the search button here on Shani’s Tutoring? It’s great! You can find it on the menu bar, and it helps you to navigate the whole site.
My favourite part of the search function is that it splits the results into sections. You can see if the result is a guide, course, product, quiz or anything else. You can even click on those content types to go through those in particular!
This will make your life so much easier. It’s much more powerful than most blog search functions, so you can use it to look for any English term or text. I try to do all I can to speed up the process of getting information. This is one way I can do that!
That’s why I take so much pride in organising the categories and tags well. All those things help you to find what you need with ease. Plus, they show up in the search results, too! So, the more accurate they are, the more you’ll get out of this site.
I’ve Got the Glossary Covered For You
Right now, I am in the process of creating a very useful glossary for members. I am also making a booklet containing the most important subject terminology to sell in my shop.
I have already made one on metaphors that you can check out. There’s also one on semantic fields. They’re both available to anyone on the Study Buddy tier or higher.
Feel free to link to my glossary posts in your own blog posts! After all, this whole site is designed to help you boost your grades. As long as you don’t copy my work or rewrite it in other places, it’s here for you to use.
You can search for these terms using the main search bar. Or, you can also click on “Guides” and check out the dedicated search bar there. It’s all easy to use!
If you need a new guide, you can let me know by requesting it on the forums. After all, this site exists for you to improve! So, I’ll always do my best to give you what you ask for!
I Provide Unseen Texts For You to Comment On
One of the things you need to do for your GCSEs and other exams is read and analyse a piece of writing you’ve never seen before. We call that an “unseen text”.
It’s an essential skill for you to learn. It helps you to see how the texts around you are influencing you. How do they use language to make you think and feel a certain way? How good are they at that goal? If you perfect that skill, you’re much less likely to fall for fake news.
Unseen texts aren’t so easy to come by, though. Sure, you can analyse any piece of writing you find. However, you’re probably not going to read the sort of stuff they’ll ask you to in your exams for fun. So, it’s good to have a bank of unseen texts to look at. That’s where I come in.
You can check out one of my unseen texts and then write a blog post about it to revise for English Language!
Right now, I only have “The Lyre’s Song” up. However, there’s plenty more where that came from! I am in the process of digging up my original stories and poems, as well as curating a bunch of public domain stories for you to use here on the site.
I’ll have some analysis for you to have a look at. Try to analyse the text on your own first, though. That’s a great way to improve your reading skills.
You Will Be Able to Collaborate with Other Students
It is important to share your ideas with others. Not just teachers, either!
Believe it or not, teachers don’t know everything. I know. Shocker. Sometimes, a student will know a lot more about a topic than their teachers.
It could be because a book mentions a science term and your teacher hasn’t had to pick up a science book since their exams in 2013 (wow, I’m old). Or, it could be because the text talks about a religion or culture that a student is a part of. Whenever a book talks about Islam, for example, I always ask my Muslim students to share their thought and ideas. They know better than I do.
My goal here is to encourage and even reward working with other students. You will need to learn to work with others in any type of job you get! So, it’s a good skill for the future. Plus, you can bounce ideas off each other to get even better analysis.
At the moment, the forums here on Shani’s Tutoring are quite new and quiet. However, with students like you joining, we can make this a place where we can all blog about English in a supportive way. We can learn from each other and share ideas.
Be part of the first wave of students to join! You won’t regret it!
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