I’ve got to add this to my wiki for “Relevant Posts”. Actually Clarence has many that I consider relevant but this particular one, “Authentic Voices“, truly resonates with me. He blogs about how his students’ blogging is “real”. It is authentic. He says he sometimes cringes about what the kids in his class have written. He also talks about their poor spelling and grammar on some, questionable posts on others, and how they are writing about what is going on in their lives.Then he continues with this:

Out of all of the questionable posts, the poorly written posts, emerge pearls that the kids pay attention to. When kids write about the stupidity of drinking, other kids listen. When kids write about what they learned from a unit, or about an “aha” moment for them in the middle of an assignment, other kids listen and begin to consider these things themselves. When kids write about their struggles, their difficulties, and their anger, they become real for others in the classroom, and others around the world.

This is why I will never teach without blogs again.

I have to admit that I have not gotten to such authentic publishing of student work. Close but my hope is that “that day will “arrive”. Clarence is paving the way, especially so in that he is working with middle school kids. He really gets that the process is so much more important than the product.
We will get to such openness but meanwhile I will never teach without blogs again either. A few of the reasons include:

  • Classroom discussions are no longer dominated by the teacher and one or two verbal students.
  • Visiting some other student blogs lets our kids compare/contrast their learning and ideas with other students and adults
  • Having incredible real time learning spaces where teachers have the opportunity to teach what is considered appropriate to post, how their blogging will or will not change others minds, how it can come across to others and how important the writing/blogging skills are, and how their learning can improve through the conversations
  • Experiencing joy as students begin to grasp real reasons for writing and that their voice does count in this arena. They begin to enjoy writing, feel ownership, and see how their voice can make a difference. It’s the ability to build a classroom learning community that is unlike any other I have been able to foster in classrooms.
  • Getting to know my students in such an absolutely relevant way. Letting them get to know me as a teacher who is learning right along with and from them.
  • Getting to foster the potential through blogging and commenting.

There are, of course, many more.

So I say kudos to Clarence. Student voices do need to be heard. We can listen, we can develop new understandings- what incredible opportunities for us. Clarence is leading the way.