In the spirit of refreshing my own blog I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can help my students continue to find stamina and excitement for their blogging lives. One of the things that keeps me blogging is connection with community. When you feel the presence of your audience, or you are able to connect with others it gives you a sense of purpose in your work. It’s not just about sitting in front of a screen and spouting off whatever ideas come into our heads, it’s about connecting to the hearts and minds of our readers. It’s about inspiration.
I want my students to feel inspired by their blogs. I wasn’t feeling that inspiration these last few weeks. I was feeling like our classroom blogging had become stale, and in my zest to help them improve the quality of their writing I had put to much of myself into their writing. This is why I not only redesigned our class blogging home, but I also decided to connect them to some of the global blogging communities out there so that they can feel the presence of their peers from around the globe.
We started our first experiment last week by posting “It’s Monday What Are You Reading” posts. Students read a few examples before getting started. It worked well since it was Thanksgiving week, a very short week, and the format of the post was much shorter than what we had been previously doing. Although there was less writing, students put some nice thought into their last several book choices and I used this as a jumping off point in my conversations about book choice with students.
This week we dipped our toe into the Nerdy Book Club. This start was a little more intensive as we needed to first read many posts on their blog to get a sense of what types of posts would fit, and we spent a good deal of time talking about the Nerdy Book Club community, who started it and why, and why it was important. Students first posts were a bit tentative but they were excited by the freedom and choice that came with it! As their teacher I was happy to see their zest but frustrated to see the amount and quality of writing decrease. That will be something that we discuss together this week as we go back and revise posts, and it will be something that I will look carefully at to see where I can help students find the stamina to write long and strong.
We also jumped into a less formal community that I’m calling Wonder Wednesday. This is based on the Wonderopolis Website and the fact that it sounds really swell. There isn’t really a blogging community per se but there is lots of great wondering going on on the Wonderopolis site in the comments section and on Twitter using the hashtag #wonderwednesday so I sort of launched a Guerilla style round up today to see what would happen. Students read about wonders, left comments on my post, and added to our wonder wall. In future weeks we’ll be taking wonders and doing some mini-inquiry to see if we can find answers! So I’m anticipating some more authentic blogging opportunities there. We also contacted a bunch of other fifth grade classes on Twitter and even got them to join us!
Some upcoming communities we will participate in are the Slice of Life challenge in March, although I’m thinking of getting them started a bit earlier on this with some Tuesday Slice of Life writing sessions. We will also be popping into Poetry Friday and Chalk-a-Bration at some point, but for now we’re just taking it a little bit at time. I’m feeling pretty inspired and so are my students so I’d say overall we’re accomplishing our goal.