“How do I edit?” That was music to my ears. I had just finished explaining that students and teachers from all over the world would be able to view our blog posts. This was major news to a classroom full of second graders. Suddenly, they felt their writing mattered, not only to the teacher. Finally, my students wanted to edit their work. They now had a real audience. This audience stretched further than an author’s day with parents present or any presentation we could do in our school building. With the click of a button and a single tweet on Twitter their writing could be viewed all the way across the world.
I know I sound a little dramatic, but to second graders this was a big deal. I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw a comment from a student in China. I was beyond thrilled to share the news with my class. I could not wait to get to school. When I was able to show them, they were equally excited. This sparked a million questions and ended with locating exactly where our new friend was from on a map. Each time we would get a comment on a post it was like Christmas morning. Their audience had a name and location. This kind of motivation reached even my most reluctant writers. With an authentic audience, we were authors.
A main player in that audience is the parents of your students. Having a class blog opened a window into student progress that went beyond a letter or grade percentage. Each student’s blog became a growing portfolio of student achievement. Being able to view their child’s work from home or even on their phone, made their child’s education extraordinarily accessible. It made them part of the process. Feedback for a teacher is obviously valuable, but feedback and encouragement for family is also very powerful.
This year, I’ve had the most parent commenting activity of any other year while blogging. At Back to School night, I explained that “comments equal audience”. When students receive a comment it only can provide encouragement, but it also can provide timely and specific feedback. With weekly email blasts and tweets I continue to keep parents updated on our most recent blog posts. I love when a long distance cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent has an opportunity to log on and participate in one of my student’s educational experience. Students in my class were equally excited about receiving comments from family members.
Parents in my classroom also started taking on some responsibility at home with student posts. For example, parents will take the time to sit with their child and edit a post the child had written in school. This is not an assignment, and has been motivated purely by the student. When there is an audience, students take pride in their writing, and they want it to be the best it can be.
Blogging has opened a door into my classroom that wouldn’t exist otherwise. This door gives my students access to an audience that wasn’t even thinkable when I was in school. Blogging has changed my students’ relationship with writing.