Research shows that people motivated to do something are more likely to do something than people not motivated to do anything. Research also shows that students are are motivated to write when they see it as purposeful. And even more research shows that having an authentic audience is one of the keys to providing that purposefulness for writing.
So, what does that mean for classrooms?
The Teacher-As-Sole-Reader-of-Student-Writing model will not help students reach their fullest potential. Fortunately, in today’s digital world, finding and reaching a real audience has become much easier to accomplish. In fact, by utilizing a simple social media tool –blogs– we can even accomplish this on steroids.
Blogs (short for Web Logs) provide a framework on which people can create content and publish it on the Internet to a worldwide audience. For students, their blog work can be easily accessed at home, shared with family members near and far through a simple email or Facebook post, and may inspire discussions with classmates that increases the depth of learning about a topic.
The singular response (a grade) from a singular person (the teacher) no longer needs to be the default method for engaging students in learning. A broader audience helps to extend the discussion on a topic, giving students more authentic feedback than one teacher can provide. In this way, it is literally a village that raises the learner, and the student finds that learning doesn’t stop at the grade — it continues far into the world beyond school.
There are 5 examples of blogs here at school that you can sink your teeth into.
By providing students a chance to publish content on a blog, we help ensure their pieces reach a wide audience who are then able to provide context for writing. This, in addition to seeing their material on the Internet, is motivating to students. They begin to help one another edit and improve their work, and in reading each others’ posts, they learn even more. Plus, blogging provides them a chance to learn some of the rules of playing safely on the digital playground in a very controlled environment.
By the time students graduate from CLC in 8th grade, they are literate in multiple applications of technology and can leverage various tools to effectively communicate on range of topics in a range of formats for a range of purposes. Those are the kinds of skills that translate well into high school, college and then whatever field they choose to pursue as a career. In this way, we are looking beyond the test score to the applicable-for-life score.
Worst case scenario, using blogs, Aunt Gerty has a chance to see what little Johnny is up to way down here in Florida, and may just learn a little bit of something herself. In this way, we become the learning community that spreads the learning afar.