Sunday, March 25, 2012

4 Reasons 21st Century Administrators Should Get Out of the Way and Let Students Blog

As a twenty-first century administrator, and a former English teacher, I believe in the power of blogging. There's satisfaction that comes from writing and having others read it. That is fundamental to every rule of composition. So much do I believe in its power, I am excited that students at our school are blogging and excitedly talking about the experience. Once we were able to rescue Blogger from the clutches of the content filter, several of our teachers now have students engaged in blogging as a part of their classroom experience. It's writing 21st century style. Here's 4 reasons to get students blogging for those administrators who still hesitate.

  • Blogging gives students an opportunity to engage a real audience. This became evident this past week when one of our students excitedly came into my office just to tell me about individuals from a European country who contacted her because of her blog. I can't say in 16 years as an English teacher I ever saw one of my students get that excited about an essay they'd just written. Blogging gives students an opportunity to engage in real writing with a potential real audience, an English teacher's dream!
  • Blogging gives teachers and educators a real context for teaching them how to effectively engage others with writing and media. No one sits around reading essays except English teachers, and I say that as a former English teacher. Trying to engage an audience in an essay isn't real. Trying to get others to read and comment on your last blog post is real. Blogging is an environment that gives students the opportunity to experiment and try to see what works with readers, and the feedback is real too.
  • Blogging gives us (all educators) a tool to teach students to contribute responsibly to the web conversation. In the context of blogging, educators can teach students how to engage readers and engage with the right level of disclosure. Teachers can teach students how to blog safely as well as effectively. In other words, if we want students to blog safely, then we have to give them the opportunity to blog.
  • Blogging provides an environment for students to reflect on learning. Sure, reflection can be done in a journal, but journals are at best written for an audience of 2, the student and the teacher. It's in the context of a blog that students can test out what they are thinking with others. The reflection is expanded with feedback and comments. Blogging allows for interactive reflection.
Just to give you some idea of what our students are doing with blogging, here are some of our students' blogs. Some are for an AP US History class. Others are a part of their senior projects. They are doing what a 21st century administrator would be proud of. I obviously do not include their names here, but I can't help but share them with you. 

It is time for 21st century administrators to move beyond the fear of students engaging in blogging. Blogging is an opportunity for students to engage in real writing for a real audience. It is an authentic activity that has the potential to bring real learning to the classroom.

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