Right now, I am in Will Richardson's session on blogging that's being held during the Vision to Practice conference by the Greater Essex County DSB in Windsor, ON, Canada. Will is working with teachers new to blogging.
It's interesting as I sit back and listen to the discussions and concerns. It's evident to me that the message that social networking is a dangerous thing is very strong and that many teachers are not aware of the message that networking through the read/write web can be a very powerful learning tool that can motivate and engage students. Will showed us Anne Davis' blog post Rationale for Educational Blogging where she lists a number of reasons why blogging is pedagogically sound. She says,
There are many skills and concepts that need to be addressed to effectively help teachers learn to use blogs throughout their curriculum to foster these new literacies. It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces. Teachers need to address writing for a public audience, how to cite and link and why, how to use the comment tool in pedagogical ways, how to read web materials more efficiently as well as explore other ways to consider pedagogical uses of blogs. Blogging requires us to teach students to critically engage media. Students need instruction on how to become efficient navigators in these digital spaces where they will be obtaining a majority of their information.
She writes about new literacies and I think that this is important. I think that we are in real danger of narrowly defining what literacy is. Literacy is not just a highly publicized score on a standardized test. In the quote above, Davis defines other literacy skills that are not part of these tests but are certainly part of what it means to be literate in the 21st century. And we know that what gets tested gets taught. So how do kids get proficient with 21st century literacies if we don't value them enough to place them within our curriculum or our testing systems? The reality is that blogs, wikis, rss, text messaging and social networking sites are part of the daily literacies of our students. If we don't teach them how to navigate and ethically use these technology who will?
If you want to know more about 21st century skills check this out here. There are lots of links on this site that will lead to articles that examine what it means to be literate in the 21st century and the types of skills that we need to foster in our students so that they will be prepared for a world that is totally different then the one for which we were prepared.
We had almost 50 teachers attend Will's 2 sessions. I am excited to see teachers at both secondary and elementary extending their learning by becoming familiar with blogs.
Here are 2 sources for more information on blogging that Will shared:
Weblogs in Schools