Saturday, April 21, 2007

To blog or not to blog...

that is the question. Why read blogs? Why write a blog?

We are living in an amazing time in history. Speech is truly becoming free. People everywhere are saying what they want to say and publishing their ideas for people around the world to read. Web 2.0 has given a voice to millions of people and also given us the ability to share our voice with other people around the world. Web 2.0 has taken out the middleman (middle person). We don't need a publisher to tell us that what we want to say is worth reading. It is the readers who will decide. And the readers who can tell you what they think. We no longer write in a vacuume.

What does this mean for teachers? Teachers are learners at heart. Reading blogs provides teachers with a community of colleagues beyond their own school. That community has ideas and opinions about teaching that can motivate and inspire. Writing your own blog is a learning experience in itself. You have to ask yourself, what do I have to say and how do I want to say it? Finally, it makes the teaching of writing that much more important. If blogging is the future, then writing is the future. We want our students to be prepared to make a point and argue it articulately and creatively.

What does this mean for parents? Parents are also learners. Reading blogs provides parents with a community with ideas and opinions about parenting that can motivate, challenge and inspire. Writing your own blog is a learning experience and also lends your own voice to the voice of parents everywhere. There is so much propaganda about parenting. Parents need to take control of their own issues. Finally, blogging by teachers lets parents in on what is happening in the classroom. It opens the black box. It allows conversations to take place within a classroom community that can lead to better understanding and learning for everyone in the community.

What does this mean for students? Blogging provides a public voice for students. It makes writing authentic. When writing a blog, you really have to consider your audience and be open to feedback. This provides incentive to students to think before they write and to write well. Blogging forces students to dress up their writing for a public audience.

What does this mean for school administrators? School administrators should be participating in a community of bloggers. Administrators can learn from each other about what is working and what isn't. They can provide each other with support, feedback and ideas to make schools work better. They can model writing and participating in the future of technology for their teachers, parents and students. And, they can make their goals and intentions transparent to the school community. Nothing keeps you more honest than laying it out on the table and opening yourself up to your community for ideas and suggestions.

Of course, the public nature of blogging is scary. Is anyone listening? Are they going to criticize my writing, my spelling, my ideas? As a community we need to respect the risk that bloggers are taking by laying their ideas and opinions out there. We need to presuppose the good intentions of the writer and honor his or her vulnerability by contributing in a caring and nonjudgemental way.

What do you think - teachers, parents, students, administrators? Are you willing to come on board? Are you willing to lend your voice to the blogosphere? To submit your ideas to the conversation? Do you need help to do that? Do you have questions? Ideas? Ask me, ask others. Let's get this party started.

David on classroom 2.0 at ning just shared this amazing wiki site on how to start blogging. Check it out!
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