reflection, student blogging

I Make Them Blog But Do They Want To?

image from icanread

For three years I have assumed that my students loved blogging.  For three years I have assumed that they wanted to share their thoughts with the world, be role models for others, and have many people comment.  I have tweeted about it, I have blogged about it, and I have presented about it.  I have held up their work as pictures of exemplary blogging and I have pushed them to share, reflect, and bare their souls.  Never did I stop to ask them if they wanted to.  Never did I take my own advice to give the students a voice and ask them how they felt.

Today I did.  I had opened up their Kidblog, noticed a few kids that had not done the weekly blogging challenge and I got upset.  After all, how much more time could I possible give them to blog?  How many more opportunities to get it done with?  Then I realized that perhaps they didn’t want to.  One child for sure did not since he had told me pretty much every day, but the others I had no idea about and the truth is, I had never asked.  I had just assumed they loved it as much as I did.

So today I stepped back and asked them if they wanted to blog.  I told them it was their discussion to have and that I would await their answer.  And I meant it to, as much as I love blogging and it is something I am incredibly proud of, I no longer want to push them into something that is so open without them being ok with it.   So I sat back, slightly on pins and needles, and just waited to hear their thoughts.

At first hesitant chatter but then a student took charge and told everyone to sit in a circle and they would all share their opinion.  One by one they got their chance to speak and one by one they were listened to.

…I love to blog because I love writing for other people than Mrs. Ripp…
…I love blogging because we can talk to other kids…
…I love blogging because I have no social life…
…I love to blog because people care about what we say…

In the end they decided they wanted to keep blogging.  They wanted to share, to reflect, to discuss.  They wanted me to read it but they also wanted others to discuss their lives with them.

When they had decided and told me, I added only these thoughts:
…I love when you blog because I get to see your growth as writers…
…I love when you blog because you are considerate writers and others can use you as role models…

But most importantly, I love when you blog because it allows me to get to know you better.  We have such little time in the classroom but blogging allows us to connect even more, and I am grateful for that.  So thank you for sharing, for growing, and for writing.  My students are bloggers; not just because I tell them to be but because they want to be.  And for that I am thankful.

If you would like to visit them, please leave them a comment and tell us where you are from – we map all of our connections, wont you be one of ours?

Epilogue:  Two days after I wrote this post I asked my students what the students who chose not to blog should do.  After another student-led group discussion, they decided as a class that any students that chooses not to blog will do a weekly journal prompt to me instead.  They felt that since they were writing as bloggers and sharing their thoughts with the whole world, that others who chose not to should have to do the same but only to me.  I stand by their decision and look forward to seeing who will blog or not.

3 thoughts on “I Make Them Blog But Do They Want To?”

  1. I have been working online for five years now and I think its true that its not a 'best fit' for all students, and some dont take to it but I think its true of anything that we do as educators. I have really thought long and hard about complusory commenting for studnets and I don't enforce it, because for some students in my class they are just not into it. But overall its the minority.

  2. Great discussion, and kudos for giving the kids permission to own their own learning. I know it can be tough to relinquish control, especially if you think the path they'll choose isn't what you would prefer. However, that's how good teaching/leading/parenting should look. Many education policymakers and administrators could take a lesson from this style of decision-making and people-management. What about the few kids who no longer want to blog? Will you allow them to pursue something else or will they be "stuck" doing it because the majority rule prevails? Great that you discovered that most of them DO want to continue, but that still leaves the question of what about those who (in the words of Melville) "would prefer not to."

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