If we build it, will they read?

by Mr. Sheehy

Now that my students are all capable of making the blogs work – they can post articles without technical problems and without forgetting their passwords – I’m beginning to push the writing they’re posting. This week, we’re beginning to consider their audiences and purpose, which, in my little dreams I call expectations, I hope will clean their writing of some of the IM chat-isms. But I’m excited by part of what I read in Teacher Magazine‘s article about Will Richardson, where Will discusses hooking his blogging students up with professionals. For Richardson’s journalism class, the practicing professionals part was important, but for me, I would simply like to supply my students with readers. If they had a few readers, they couldn’t deny the importance of writing well and making a decent impression through their blogs. No one wants to look like a fool.

I have dug up a couple ideas, but I have not struck that unmistakable coal vein yet. I need to be careful, because the risk of weird readers is exactly what would make my district nervous. And I need more than a handful of readers, because I have a lot of students and they each have their own blog. I’ve considered contacting old and current professors of mine and having college students who are studying to be teachers “adopt” a couple students and commit to checking in with those blogs once a week or so. If I were to use those students, I could place a little trust in the institution’s system for weeding out weird-o’s. Another option would be hooking up with another high school, anywhere, and having a reading exchange, where students taking the same class (American literature) would read each other’s blogs. That’s a tried concept that few in education argue against.

Whatever I do, I am convinced it would be worth it, because it would take these students’ blogs and officially raise them above the class-journal status that they potentially could earn.