As a teacher, I’m always thinking about ways to make the material I teach more relevant and meaningful.  Over the years, I have gradually but steadily whittled away those assignments that didn’t seem to really contribute to student learning – activities that are taught because, well…because.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the ‘because’ reason.  It stinks.  It’s busywork with no real value.  When I was a student, anytime I caught the pungent scent of ‘because’ or ‘busywork’ my motivation level dropped way down and the frustration shot up.  As learners, we need to know that what we’re learning about is important.  It’s an axiom to say that we learn better when we understand the meaning our learning holds outside the classroom.  And because I’d prefer not to teach in a classroom that stinks, I try teach my English classes in the most relevant ways I know how.

So when I ask students who they’re writing their poem/essay/story/paragraph/etc for and the say “you,” I feel a certain degree of consternation.  Yes, they are writing for me, but I wish they weren’t – I wish their work had a bigger and more authentic audience than just me.

Enter the blog.

Although I’m a neophyte at blogging myself (this is only my eleventh post), it has already connected me to people and ideas that would have otherwise remained hidden.  It’s been a way to explore new thoughts and concepts, connect with people, and share stories.  What better way for students to see their thinking and the work they do in class from a bigger perspective?  How great would it be if other people in the ‘real’ world started to dialogue with my students about their learning?  My students (and all students) would really benefit from seeing their learning move beyond the four walls of the classroom.

To be honest, I did a terrible job promoting the idea of blogging to my students.  I had an intense internal battle with myself at the beginning of class as to whether I should go through with this or not – a number of students were absent and I was feeling tired and a little sick.  At the end, I decided to go through with it.  I don’t think my students fully understand why they created these accounts or how it will impact their learning, but they were happy enough to go along with me.  I’m looking forward not only to how this will impact their enthusiasm for the work they do in class, but also for any subtle paradigm shifts they may experience along the way!