Yes, my fourth graders are going to be blogging. Since my epiphany with their journals a few weeks ago, I’ve gone exploring to find out more about other teachers’ experiences having students of this age blog, worked closely with a wonderful technology specialist at my school as we figured out how best to do this, and prepared with her to introduce the blogs to the children this coming week.
So why, really? Here are some of my reasons:
- Audience. When my students write in their journals, I’m their audience. Even when they write stories that are published and read by peers and parents, I’m still their main audience. Quite understandable as I, as their teacher, am always assessing their work to be sure that they are on the right track, making adequate progress, and otherwise functioning well as fourth graders at our school. But I have seen how excited they get, the sudden jump in motivation when they have a larger audience; it is remarkable how much care and thought they give in a different way than when I’m their audience. Suddenly it isn’t just about pleasing me, about succeeding or failing in school (as it is, whatever I say or do), about proving their brilliance, but it is about communication with others out there. Believe me, I understand because I too write differently here knowing I have an audience of some unknown size.
- Response. The children are always excited and motivated when they sense that someone other than their teacher is going to read their work, but even moreso when they may get responses. This was one of the things that most excited them when they did the amazon reviews. They loved reading and then writing responses in the journals and so I have no doubt that it will be an easy matter for them to do so on their blogs. Teaching them to do so with care, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness will be one of my many responsibilities.
- Moving on Out. To start with the blogs will be private; only accessible within our school community. But I very much hope that I can make them public because I know my students would love to have people throughout the world comment on their blogs. I’m blown away to see who reads my blog; there are people from all over the places coming by. I’d love to have that to happen for my students as well. In the past I did a number of web projects that got broad attention which was quite exciting for the kids; I suspect a similar situation will occur with these blogs.
- Old Wine in New Bottles. I’ve got a pretty set curriculum, content-wise. Of course I tweak it, add to it here, take away from it there, but I like what we do and so don’t change it drastically from year to year. But I love to explore new ways to teach it and I’ve already got a million ideas as to how I will do things this year with these blogs.
Can you tell how excited I am about this?