Coming home from a basketball game, I was talking with my 9 year old grandson about heading back to school next week (we are wrapping up our February break). And he said to me, “Grammy, you are so lucky!” “How so, Andrew?” I asked. ” He replied, “Because you don’t have to learn anymore! ” Wow, I just had to chuckle, because boy Oh boy, he couldn’t have been any further from the truth! (Kids are the best) My immediate response was, of course, “I learn something new every day”.
I am currently involved in the Better Blogging with Students initiative with Kathleen Morris from Edublogs and many other educators. I would venture to say that we all are learning something new every single day! I believe we have a common goal as teachers: to do a better job of engaging our students in their learning. By learning and developing our own skills through blogging, we hope to help our students improve their understanding of digital literacy and responsible digital citizenship along with the development of better writing and communication skills. A tall order, I know, but I am a teacher on a mission with a passion for learning. After all, It’s not a matter of having to learn, it’s about wanting to learn.
In January, I wrote about resurrecting my class blog as my first effort in getting students more involved and enthusiastic about what goes on in the classroom. I will admit, it’s been moving along slower than I had hoped, but we are making progress. This week my students will begin the 10 week Student Blogging Challenge, which looks interesting and frightening all at the same time! (More to come on this experience, I’m sure!). I also shared the top 5 reasons I believe blogging is a great classroom tool and my thoughts on reason #1 – Student Engagement.
What fuels our need to learn more?
There is something about having a listener that shares a common interest, or the same point of view, or a common goal. They get it, they understand. They are not judging or grading or criticizing. They are just listening and giving support and acknowledgement of your work. They are your authentic audience and they fuel your passion to keep going, dig deeper, do better, learn more. It is human nature. We are social creatures of habit and we need to share. Connecting what we do in the classroom to the outside world is a perfect way to get students involved and take ownership of their learning. In The Value of an Authentic Audience from Edutopia, Monica Burns shared ,”One of the reasons…we establish authentic audiences for students, [is so] they can see the purpose for their work.” Authentic audiences provide a sense of buy-in and help students connect to the real world. Our peers intrinsically ignite a sense of purpose, a drive to put your best foot forward and express yourself in greater detail. After all, it’s not just for the teacher or the grade, ‘real’ people are watching and reading and listening!
As Cailin Tucker shares in her Ed Talk on Connecting Students to an Authentic Audience, when we choose to persevere (in spite of our fears) for the sake of learning and connecting, we open ourselves and our classroom to a world of meaningful possibilities.
Happy sharing through blogging!