I'm happy to report that after my pointed remarks to the students involved and my moans here, there has been a return to activity on Progress Report It's less than a week now to the Standard Grade exam, and I suggested that they use the site to work on specific skills - maybe a paragraph using dialogue, perhaps including different dialects, or a bit of descriptive writing.
I'm realising through this that a blog set-up is brilliant for targeting in this fashion; at this stage it's a waste of time to write entire essays when you're still floundering with basics like the layout of direct speech. Once a student knows what 700 words in her own handwriting look like, she knows what her finished essay should look like on the page and can hold that in mind as she writes. I've been interested to find recently that if I write a Critical Essay from a Higher English paper, I will do it in about 700 words, give or take a paragraph. This happens whether I write or type, and is not the result of deliberate strategy. But with 8 Standard Grades coming up, few students have the time to write whole essays more than once in the last push of revision - like preparing for a marathon, it's better not to do the whole distance.
Blogging is a brilliant tool, but as I was commenting over at edublogs earlier today, the main ingredient in a successful student is not a grasp of technology, nor a brilliant teacher. Rather it is the fire in the belly that drives a student to want to improve and be willing to put in the necessary work. There is no magic wand. The deadliest drawback is the mixture of diffidence and complacency that characterises too many of our students - and I fear it is more often found in girls.
And now I'll stop before someone makes me!