And I must remember to apologise profusely to a couple of my students come Tuesday...
All year my Extension English group have been encouraged to keep personal blogs completely unrelated to our English curriculum, the focus of them being to use the language to express yourself. Over the year I've put up various stimulus and done different activities to try and encourage students to use them more and it's had varied responses. A couple of my quieter students will rarely speak up in class, but use their blogs to share their opinions, thoughts and themselves in such a valuable way.
Without their blogs I wouldn't know about As dreams of becoming a doctor, or Bs worries about getting assignments in on time, or Cs suspected illness. I've always made it clear that these blogs are viewable by any of their classmates and if I see something I worry may be too personal I make contact straight away and talk it through with the student - it's their choice if they leave it up or not, I don't censor unless it's truly offensive.
With the insane busyness of last term we all got slack with our blogs - me included - and I just spent a very enjoyable hour going through them and catching up. I have been a very slack teacher...
A won his Piano competition and I didn't even congratulate him...because I hadn't read his blog!
C had her medical concerns cleared...and I was slow finding out the great news.
And across the class there's been all sorts of other highlights - braces off, bored lessons during HPE, concerts, new books, new jobs, new cars...oh and a very detailed discussion comparing iMacs and PC after the student got her first Mac...I believe she may convert me yet. Now, I know what you're all thinking...get an RSS feeder. The thing is, I use Google Reader, have all year, but I obviously need to go tweak the settings cause it hasn't told me about these updates :(
Blogging is a powerful tool in our classrooms as a curriculum tool, but with this class it's also been a relationship builder, a way to share something beyond the traditional "Miss, my dog ate my homework..." And the signs are there that it will do the same thing with the Year 8 groups I'm working with on the Podcasting project.
I'll be setting aside an hour or so each week purely to check student blogs from now on - it's too important in my relationship with my students not to!