This week, all of my students were given the opportunity to start their own blog using Blogger, a free blog-publishing service, which is part of Google Apps for Education (GAFE). I wanted to give my students a venue for writing that extends beyond the typical spiral notebook, with the hopes that these blogs serve as portfolios of the students' writing for the remainder of the school year.
A blog allows students to put their writing out into the world and get feedback from others. You can't get that type of an audience when you write in a notebook, which is what one of my Twitter followers suggested to me this morning when she tweeted, "Give students a voice...you open their world."
Right now the students' attitudes run the gamut from excited and motived to annoyed and confused. I had a group of boys in my classroom just after 7:30am this morning, crowding around a computer to take a look at their classmate' new blog. The enthusiasm was glorious. Then later this afternoon, I overheard a few different students groaning about how "stupid" it is to have a blog.
We'll see if I can get those attitudes to change by June. In the meantime, I have realized a couple of things. First, you cannot please all of your students all of the time. And second, students who complain that something is stupid are usually afraid that it will be too hard or that they won't do well at the assigned task.
I am hopeful that blogging about literature and other topics will help motivate my students. Having an audience beyond just me, the teacher, is definitely a way to keep students engaged and serious about their writing. To any parents reading, I would recommend asking your child to share their blog's URL (web address) with you so that you can take a look at it from time to time. It might be nice for them to know that you are interested and supportive of the work they are doing in 6th grade.