I love having my children turn an essay into a blog post.
It's such a great assignment! Essays and blogs posts are completely different genres of writing. One is often formal, while the other is casual and personable. Essays are often long, while blog posts are short. Blog posts target a specific audience.
Turning an essay into a blog post because it involves summarizing and focusing on a new audience. When you write an essay, it has a thesis statement that you are proving with examples, illustrations, facts, and subjective feelings. Essays are often lengthy. In contrast, blogs posts are short, straight to the point, without any fluff. When you give students a word limit (I often give them a 500-800 word limit), students are often looking at reducing a paper to a quarter of its length.
Blog posts are more action-oriented as well. The reader wants a quick read. Your student must decide what information, examples, and illustrations the blog reader will be interested in. Your student will have to put himself into the mindset of the blog reader and determine what to leave in and what to remove. This is a great way to teach them about audience and genre.
You will find shorter sentences in blog posts than essays, as well as bullet points. Your writer will be forced to rephrase things in a different style.
Here are the directions I give to my students to rewrite an essay as a blog post:
Hook your reader with your first sentence. It might be a thought-provoking question, a quote, a statistic, or a quick story.
Blogs posts are short (between 500 and 800 words is best), so every word has to count.
Blog readers have a short attention span so make every word, phrase, and sentence should make a significant impact on your reader. Keep your sentences short.
Get rid of all your long sentences. Chop them up into two if you have to. Use simple, but precise words.
Try to find a new way to describe your topic. Inform, inspire, and interact with your audience. Ask questions.
End with calling the reader to some kind of action.
Turning an essay into a blog post is just one of the assignments in this one-credit high school English course, Foundations of Western Literature.
In this course, we look at the foundations of Western Literature, including the Old Testament, New Testament, Greek writings, Roman writings, early Church Fathers, Norse mythology, and fairy tales, and classic literature. Writing assignments start with the basics of analyzing literature and move to writing a literary analysis paper. We also write parallel biographies after reading parallel biographies in Plutarch's Lives. At the end of the year, we relax and write a fairy tale.
You can purchase Foundations of Western Literature at Amazon. The E-book is coming soon.
I hope you will try this assignment with your teens. Let me know how it goes.