This Is My 50th Post

As educators, we often become passionate about certain things and we end up putting 110% of our energy into helping instill that same passion in our students. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. For me, the passion I developed last year was for blogging. Not so much for me personally, although I have published 49 posts on my personal blog (go me!) but more so for my students.

Why the passion for blogging? It’s actually quite simple. Students need to be strong writers if they are to succeed at the college level. I keep telling my students over and over that you do five major things in college:
2. write
3. research
4. group work
5. presentations

If I’m missing one of the major categories, let me know, but my college experience, including the graduate course I’m currently in, pretty much centered around those five major areas.

Blogging In My Classroom

When I discovered student blogging last year through several members of my PLN, I was on a mission to integrate blogging into my classroom. I was a novice in this area and my classroom was “learning is messy” personified. And I was ok with that. Blogging initially didn’t take off as well as I had planned, partly because I started it late in the year, and partly because I was the only teacher at the entire school that was asking students to publish original work on the web. That was an extremely foreign concept for students attending a highly traditional school. However, there were a few students who embraced blogging. One in particular has continued with blogging, even since graduating. She’s developing her unique voice and style and that is evident in her posts.

I often see on Twitter the questions, “why should students blog?” and “how can we integrate responsible digital citizenship education into our classroom?” My suggestion? Read this post, “Why Google Glass Just Might Catch On” written by my former student Sam and try to tell me why they should not. She’s been out of my classroom for almost a year now and she continues to blog. She’s not doing it as a part of any course she’s taking at Bentley University. She’s doing it because she’s passionate about social media, marketing, technology and Google in particular and wants to share this passion through her posts.

Convincing School Leaders

If you are trying to move your school forward and need evidence of how students can use social networking tools in a positive and responsible manner, show them Sam’s blog. Remind them she started as a senior in high school. Remind them that their mission statement probably contains the words “self-directed,” “intellectually curious,” and “independent learners.” Well, here it is folks. Sam is proof of all we want for our students. Imagine if Sam had been exposed to blogging as a freshman in high school, or maybe even as early as middle school? Not every student is like Sam, and I get that. But, if an entire class of freshmen start blogging and they are given proper guidance, chances are you’ll have more than one who will become a passionate blogger and will continue writing long after they leave your classroom. If your school needs even more convincing, show them my period 2 and period 5 class blogs.

Forget About Perfection-This is Important

Start blogging with your students early in the school year and be prepared for it to be messy. You’ll get through the messiness. You’re kidding yourself if you think it will be nice and neat.  If you focus on perfection, you will have failed in this endeavor before you even start. And I say this as a perfectionist. It’s just not in the cards. Do emphasize proper grammar and provide a blogging rubric as a guideline, but realize your students will confuse “their” and “there” as well as “your” and “you’re.” I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of the best educational bloggers write posts with those types of occasional errors, so just relax, it happens. Do you have to have an entirely separate course that integrates technology to do this whole blogging thing? Of course you don’t. Take your existing curriculum, find some web resources that will get your students fired up, preferably something controversial (yet still school appropriate of course) and let them start writing. Listen to NPR on your way to work for inspiration on what they could write about. I guarantee you will hear at least one story on your commute to or from work that will connect to your curriculum in some way, shape or form. And as I mentioned, and this is a key takeaway which is why I am repeating it; don’t worry about whether or not your students’ blogs are perfect. They won’t be. Once your students start blogging they will likely make mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, you name it. Big deal. Have them peer edit and proofread each other’s blog posts and revise them. Or, you could have them start in a Google Doc. Use the commenting feature to provide feedback, have your students write their revisions and then publish to their blogs. Either way, your students will learn more through this process and get more excited about writing and sharing their thoughts with the world versus writing for an audience of one. I promise you it will happen. They will get excited. It has taken me a while to get to this point, but it has been worth it. My students’ 20% blogging project was something they’d do 100% of the time if they could. And for my students to want to write that much…well, that’s just….awesome.

And what’s even more awesome, is that this marks my 50th blog post. Inspired by a (former) student.


One comment

  • Jennifer, We have Blogging as our SLO here in Waukesha, we our a one to one district working with most students obtaining Ipads, for next year, do you have a cheat sheet of “dos” and “don’ts” for Blogging. I have read your articles and your Google+ and would be interested in picking your brain some more for further details. James Ocker Harvey Philip Alternative High School

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