It was about this time last year that I wrote a blog on some lessons I was learning from my students with regards to blogging and their blogs. I was getting the clue that assigning blog assignments as homework didn’t work. Merely having a tech component wasn’t enticing enough for kids to do school work at home. I was surprised but I get that if kids aren’t motivated by what they are learning in my class they won’t be motivated to do it at home even if it’s going on their blog!
I also got the clue that grading blogs was not motivating. Well, I learned that grading anything was not motivating, that instead giving feedback was the better way to go. Feedback helps us figure out what we need to do to progress so that makes it more motivating than a grade or mark. By knowing what we need to do next we are motivated to do move on.
This year a few students and my PLC are teaching me what I know from reading books and blogs. That writing about that you are passionate about is how you will be motivated to write. These are lessons that I’ve learned from Alfie Kohn and Dan Pink but seeing those lessons come to life with my students and colleagues is how I learn best.
This year I have a 6th grader who blogs more than any other student I have ever had. She actually blogs as much as some of the most prolific bloggers I read. If I counted correctly she’s written over 250 blog posts since I got them all started by in early November of 2011. That’s been only 3 and half moths ago. Another 6th grader this year also has taken to blogging and her blog is also full of posts. Those two even started their own blog war shortly after I setup their class blog accounts and went to town with it in spite of anything I did in class. I’m even jealous at how they get so many comments! Last year I had a 6th grader blog profusely as well, which means that I’ve only been getting one to two out of about 135 kids blogging profusely each year. What do they have in common? They are writing about things they are passionate about. This year it’s been anime and manga, which, to my dismay, has nothing to do with the Science we are studying. Similarly, when I wrote a grant to get my Math and Science PLC blogging I suggested that they blog about our Math and Science PLC work. Not a one of them chose to blog about that work, instead they are blogging about their passions. Duh!
My 6th grade blogger even made virtual friends with kids in another class. One student in particular has commented on our blogs more than all the people we’ve ever had comment before put together. Her comments are thoughtful and clearly show that she reads the blog posts that she comments on showing that genuinely cares. That is really cool.
My students blog at MrGonzalez.Org and most of them keep up with their blog assignments. A few have taken to blogging to express themselves. I have to admit that I naively hoped that when my students started blogging they would blog about all the Science they were learning and that they would share with kids all over the world. I had envisioned all this Science talk going on. Well, it’s maybe happened a little bit here and there, but if you look at the bloggers I’ve highlighted you’ll see very little Science.
I am the moderator of the blogs and that means that comments come through me first to approval. This year more than ever I’ve been busy. I approve dozens of comments every day, lately it’s been down to about one dozen, and few if any of those are about Science! These kids are communicating (one of my goals for my students and tech) about all sorts of things that THEY are interested in. I’ve enjoyed sharing in their journeys and communications and it’s been showing me how important the human relationship is, how important it is to make contact on a personal level.
So what does this all mean? What am I learning here?