My previous idea that blogs were simply decorative online journals has been corrected. My personal blog, started this April, was started to entertain a few friends and family members. I saw it as a way to avoid writing a book that people are always asking me to write. So far, my personal readers have responded only in emails; I need to tell my cousins about commenting.
To be read by an authentic audience forces better writing at any age. I liked the use of students as scribes by Darren Kuropatwa. This was a great way to get students involved in helping classmates to keep track of their assignments. The sidelines also provided a number of links for exam review, other math projects, and directions for upcoming projects. Mark Ahlness also found a great way to get students more involved in the otherwise routine task of Sustained Silent Reading. By adding blogs to the “allowed” reading, students are now more engaged in the task and are reading each other’s work. This has got to be a boost to the reader and a real-life reason for fellow students to become better writers. Students have also worked together to publish their take on a wide variety of topics on Student2Oh. From the Teaching Brevity blog, the lesson that it is what to write not how much that truly matters. Students have to be activity engaged in the process of seeking quality over quantity. The writing process, at all levels of learning, becomes a real thing–not a paper for the teacher and a pretend audience.
Reading “how-to” magazines were once a necessity for me. I once thought that Teaching K-8 magazine held all that I needed to know for the next four weeks. Many of the blogs focused on helping other educators with truly current information. This was particularly true of the blog by Vicki Davis entitled Spies Like Us. Many teachers, shall I say of a certain age, are probably unaware of the powerful tools that students have at their disposal. The power of students to record, edit, and share is amazing and a little scary. Another scary thought–no homework–is shared by Dan Meyer, who challenges educators to re-examine our beliefs and practices. He makes a strong case that with better planning and management students will get enough “practice” in class. I do agree with some of the comments that reading for a baseline knowledge helps many students arrive more able to move into the new task or material. Reading in the 2.0 world lets all of us have access to new and better ideas and the most current research.
I’ll eventually get back to the personal blog. For now, I’ll focus on incorporating blogs into my classroom where they will certainly fit the need for the “real” writing those magazines were always talking about.