Recently, I came across a website called Bloggers Unite. The purpose of this site is to gather together bloggers who are interested in supporting any number of international events, like International AIDS Day, Human Rights Day, and International Animal Rights Day. I stumbled across this site as I was looking for information on International AIDS Day in conjunction with a lesson I was planning. Though I was not able to use this site with students for this event, there is serious potential to have students choose events or cause that they have some sort of belief or passion for and to support that interest by blogging.
All of my students have blogs that we use on a regular basis. The challenge in using this platform with students, I believe, is to make it as relevant and real as possible. If students are burdened with artificial tasks on their blogs, their blog space will not become the reflective, representative place that it has the potential to be. I think that there is enormous promise in sites like bloggers unite to allow students a safe entry into the realm of editorial writing. Students can choose a cause that they read about on this site, blog about it, maybe research it a little to gain extra facts, and then upload one of the badges provided to show their support of that particular event. This is an easy way to get students connected to international issues and to allow them to develop their sense of global citizenship.
Another way to use this site is to connect one of the events to whatever unit you're teaching at the time that the event occurs. For instance, I plan to use this site to get students blogging about International Human Rights Day in conjunction with A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. There are definitely instances of human rights abuses discussed in this memoir and my students are feeling the impact of those abuses through Beah's powerful use of language and imagery. Though my students are far removed from the setting of Beah's memoir, they can definitely use their online presence to support an increased awareness of this cause.