Here's a little story of something I take very much for granted now, but I know simply must take the time to go through the whole thing again, to explain how it works and what it means.
It's midsummer here in the US, but for some of my last year's third graders and me, school is still in session. They are still writing. I'm no longer their teacher, but I am teaching them. I am still editing, offering them feedback and congratulations. They are also getting feedback from others all over the world. My kids from last year are still blogging. Seven of them, a third of my class, have posted articles on their own blogs.
We use Classblogmeister, a wonderful, free, safe tool for blogging. Every word that they write on their blogs is approved by me before it appears there. Every comment goes by me first as well. I am their safety net, their set of training wheels. But regardless of these safety precautions, we have also talked relentlessly about online safety and being a responsible Internet citizen. They have learned lessons that will keep them safe, give them a degree of understanding, and hopefully give them an edge towards success, that other 8 and 9 year olds do not have.
This is unprecidented, something I have not seen or experienced in 25 years of teaching. My kids still want to write - how wonderful is that?! The difference is that now they know they have a global audience, that their writing will not just be stuck up on the family refrigerator for a few days and then taken down or replaced with something else. We blogged this past school year, and I was constantly astounded at the effort that went into their writing. They were motivated to write like I have never seen before. And of course as their teacher I found I had this incredible tool to shape and hone their writing skills. The writing curriculum was rewritten. If you look at their blogs, look from the bottom up - from their first writing, in November of 2005, to August of 2006. I can make no stronger case for the power of the blog - as a teaching tool.
Also check out the summer writing of Jackson, Danielle, Ming, Isobel, Jacqueline, Camden, and Gus. I have a feeling there will be more before the summer is over...
It is so easy, in this edtech blogging echo chamber, to forget that most people still do not know what is going on here, that a few educators and a few more students have tasted from the web 2.0 cup, and cannot turn back. We have seen the power, we have seen the results in our classrooms. Once you've been around the block in a Porshe, you do not want to get back in the family beater.