Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blogging for Middle Schoolers and Teens

My friend Maria of Natural Math and I are teaching a class on blogging for our local coop.  Today we visited a number of blogs by teenagers or younger that have won awards, gotten some important local or national coverage, and/or have helped their authors achieve their goals or have an impact on the world.  I thought I would list them for others who are looking for some inspiration for what young people are doing with their blogs.

I've divided them into several categories:

Personal/Diary-Like Blogs
These are blogs that basically deal with the life, interests, events, and musings of it author.  Here are two example that were nominated for national awards:
Castles, Quills, and Cameras:  This is written by an 8th grade homeschool students.  In addition to her interest in writing, other key passions she has are books (Quills) and movies (Cameras).  Castles contains everything else:  her schoolwork, her spiritual beliefs, and other random events or thoughts.
Oh Clementine:  (Warning--this blog does have some mild profanity, so don't visit if that offends you or is against your family's rules):  Clementine is a quirky, highly right-brained 16 year old Canadian high schooler who loves dinosaurs, video games, music, and neon.  She is passionate about her politics, which are liberal, but is not loving her high school education.

These examples illustrate some important points about writing interesting and successful personal blogs.  The main thing is, you have to have something interesting and valuable to say.  It helps to be humorous and  to provide helpful information, to be honest about yourself and your weaknesses or failures as well as your successes, and to include content or thoughts that are relevant to the experience or interests of your readers.

Project or Cause Blogs
These are blogs that done to chronicle some other larger project, fundraising, educational, or social or environmental cause.  Here are two by younger populations:
Team PyroTech:  Team PyroTech is a local team of high schoolers competing in the FIRST FRC national robotics competition.  While the primary emphasis of the project is the construct and program large robots to perform the tasks required by the contest, the teams get extra points for having exemplary supporting media, such as videos, websites, and blogs.
Wyatt Workman: Now, this one is just adorable.  A seven-year-old boy living in California who is concerned about the oceans decided to make a claymation film, publish a book, and sell his clay figures at an art show, with all the proceeds going to an environmental nonprofit.  His blog has updates about the media coverage of his work (he's been interviewed on television and national newspapers) and the funds he has raised (over $3,000 at last report).

Project or cause blogs generally support some larger effort, but are a great way to get media exposure or to get the word out to a larger audience than the ones who may be directly involved with the project.

Food Blogs
Food is one of the most popular topics for blogging, and that is true for teenagers as well as adults.  These two have both been nominated for national awards and mentioned in local media:
Foodie at 15 (Now 18):  Nick started sharing his recipe, cooking tips, impressions of great restaurants, and other food items when he was 15.  Now he is 18 and finishing up his senior year before heading to the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he plans to get the business acumen to go with his fantastic cooking and eventually open his own restaurant.  If you read his post on his ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, where he shares not only his personal experience with such cookies, his researching and adapting of the recipes of other famous chefs, his explanation of the science behind the changes he made, and the recipe itself, I'm sure you'll have no doubts that he will do exactly that.
17 (now 18) and Baking: Elissa, who is now a college student, doesn't plan a career in food, but is instead pursuing a journalism degree.  With the degree of professionalism her blog shows, she also seems assured of a bright future.  Her writing is good, her photographs of the food are GORGEOUS, and the recipes are luscious!

Personal Passion and/or Expertise Blogs
These two are example about how becoming an expert in a field that you love can really pay off:
Laura's Life:  When she was in second grade, Laura decided that she wanted to read all the Newbery Award winning books before she was in middle school.  Well, she did, and posted reviews of all of them on her blog.  Now she is working her way through the Fuse#8 Top 100 Children's Novels, as well as participating in Mock Newbery each year.  With hundreds of reviews on her site already, Laura is known by authors and people like the head of the ALA, and receives many free books now to review.  Oh, and she's only 10 years old.  Pretty amazing...
Style Rookie:  This is the queen of the successful teen blogs.  Tavi started blogging about fashion when she was 11, and has since been featured in the New York Times, Pop Magazine, French Vogue, and a number of other media.  This has led to her getting invited to front row seats at New York Fashion Week and the opportunity to write a Fashion Week article for Harper's Bazaar.  She also has designers sending her all kind of clothes and accessories.  Now 14 and in high school, Tavi is still going strong, sometimes getting 50,000 hits per day on her blog.

So there are some samples of outstanding blogs by teenagers or younger.  Have I missed any other teen or younger blogs that really stand out?  Add them to the comments below.

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