Last week I asked my third graders (roomtwelve.com
) how many blog articles they thought they had posted as a group this year. Some knew how many they had written as individuals. I knew a few had posted over 50. Nobody guessed over 350. When I suggested it might be over 500, there were a couple of gasps and several shaking heads. Couldn't be.
So they counted on their own blogs, wrote totals on the board (without names of course), and we added them up. 674. As of May 29th. With 3 weeks to go in school. An average of 32 posts per student, roughly working out to one blog post per student, every week of the school year.
They were pretty surprised, and so was I. As I was getting my thoughts organized for this post, I wondered about my previous classrooms. This year seemed like a really prolific group. So I found a post from June of 2007, where I had totaled the student posts from the 06-07 school year: 711
. I had also totaled my first blogging group, in 05-06: 340
Now I'm pretty sure, with 2 weeks to go in the school year, this group of bloggers will surpass the group from 06-07. But why was I so certain in my wrong assumption before we counted them up, that this year's group had written so much more?
So I've been looking back. Many variables have remained relatively constant - student age, number of computers, number of kids, blogging platform.
changed is the amount of time I can devote to writing. With mandated curriculum and assessment demands spiking sharply in the last couple of years, no wonder I feel like they've written more. They have had much less time to write. They're just squeezing it in
. Students now blog during earned free time. Many post their morning Journal entries regularly. It is amazing they are able to write online as much as they do.
Another thing has changed. I do not have hard data to share, but I'm pretty sure students are writing shorter articles on their blogs. Call it the face of today's literacy being influenced by the sound byte writing of Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook - I don't know. Philip Greenspun has an interesting perspective in How the Web and the Weblog have changed Writing
Along with a mandated math curriculum, there is a huge push these days for a Writer's Workshop
approach. It's a real nice way to teach writing, but not in the 21st century. It does not prepare our students to write in the world they go home to every night - or the world they will live in when they leave our classrooms.
So what's important to me, as a teacher of third graders, in my approach to literacy - specifically writing? As their teacher, I am most certainly influenced by new media, and I tend to reflect my values in the classroom. What do I care about? Is it the 19th and 20th century model of The Writing Process
? (uh, no...)
- Fluency. Kids have to be able to sit down and write, easily. They must be able to respond to a variety of assignments without it being like pulling teeth. They have to like to write.
- Conventions. Kids have to be good enough at spelling and grammatical conventions so they can express themselves easily.
- Expression. Kids must at least be exposed to some basic writing skills - enriched vocabulary, leads, summaries, paragraphing, etc.
- Forms and Audience. Kids need to know their audience, and what type of writing is appropriate for which audience.
- Conversation. Especially in today's world, kids need to understand the value of written conversation, have some basic understanding of what makes a good conversation, and what does not.
These ideas guide my teaching of writing. I do not have a curriculum guide from a publisher, sorry. My guide is this: learning from 28 years of teaching experiences, and a few years of looking forward to imagine my students' futures.
My kids will do well as writers, I know it. Shooting for 750 blog posts this year. Will update.....
technorati tags: writing writers workshop literacy