The comments on Blogging 101: Weblogs in schools make me hope more educators will get their students blogging and open that blogging up to the public so that it begins to be perceived as a powerful medium for thinking and learning. We have a long way to go in educating not only the public but some of our fellow educators, as well. I would rather develop a powerful medium for thinking than produce a polished product any day. That’s the heart of writing/blogging. There is great potential in the power of blogging and commenting. All this is not about creating a perfect product. It’s about the process and improvement and giving ownership to students of their work. It’s about making them accountable and having high expectations. Writing does not just crystalize into fluent sentences, well-organized content, and perfectly punctuated pieces. Writing is hard work. It’s not the teacher having control but doing all that is possible to do to guide the students to want to control and produce good writing. Writing is not trying to figure out and perfect every single piece you write. Good teachers stand by students during this process. They encourage, guide and help students discover and learn as they write. Students begin to recognize that their voice matters and will be heard. Caring readers recognize and respect that the more students write the more they will improve their writing skills. It takes time. The process involves learning, the shaping and reshaping of ideas, and the think-rethink process that weblogs encourage. Writing/blogging really does benefit learning. We need to encourage, cheer our students on and work at releasing them from trying to write for us or for a grade, and yes, even release them from always having a perfect product. All writers make mistakes. The goal is to give students a rich and diverse array of writing experience that will inspire them to want to write and improve that writing themselves. Fostering potential is a heck of a lot better than demanding perfection. Learning to write requires much practice and everyone has a stake in each child’s success. We need more models.

Here is a good example of a comment on one of my student blogs from Lani, a very supportive commenter, in reference to the student’s IM conversation on her blog.

You won’t be a student during the time in your elementary classroom!! You’ll be on your way to becoming a professional. I am wondering if that path to becoming a professional means you will be modeling appropriate behavior for your students and demonstrating professionalism for your teacher or principal? According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website (http://www.nbpts.org), demonstrating professionalism is one characteristic of an accomplished teacher which I sense you plan to be –. Do you think your teacher or principal you work with might read your blog? I am wondering if they might consider your blog more professional if your punctuation and capitalization were more “teacherlike”? I did feel like we were in an IM conversation (where I never use capitals and punctuation) as opposed to a more formal “Teacher Cadet” blog. You have such a nice way of sharing and explaining; I mention this notion of professionalism to encourage you to strive for that excellence, even in these early days of your travels in teaching and learning. I am really interested in following your blogging and your tales of learning and teaching!!

Now that is a commenter who knows the power of encouraging and how to build common expectations for good writing, yet pointing it out to the student in a way that will hopefully get her to think about her writing. Lani is making a difference. I am so thankful for people like Lani who take the time to comment in thoughtful ways that will help students learn.

Student voices need to be heard. Write to learn, think about it. Then think about what we as educators can learn from truly listening and developing new understandings of our students. What an opportunity for us!I end with a quote from Because Writing Matters (my favorite book on writing)

Emphasis on correctness was rooted in a nineteenth-centtury model of language development. Emphasis on mechanical errors overshadowed the deep rehetorical, social, and cognitive possibilities of writing for communication and critical thinking. So, if you feel motivated to comment on a first post by a beginning group of Teacher Cadets please travel over to the class blog (that has links to the student blogs) and comment away to these students who are considering teaching as a career.