This weekend I attended a variety of sessions at the virtual Reform Symposium, a worldwide e.conference (#rscon11). By the end of the weekend, my head was close to bursting with ideas, enthusiasm and learning. I truly felt a sense of wonder at how much I could learn sitting at my laptop. I couldn’t wait to get to school on Monday, and once I was there, I tweeted at lunchtime that I was already a better teacher because of the Reform Symposium.
There was one particular thing among the abundance of things that I learned that was the most powerful.
One of my goals this year was to start blogging with my students. After a bit of a slow start, my students are blogging and they love it. Along with their enthusiasm, their writing skills are soaring.
I’m passionate about teaching writing to my students. I take pride in knowing that when they leave me they have a foundation upon which they can rely as they move on in their educational journey. Admittedly, I do begin many of my blogs with “I’m passionate about…” but this is really true. I love to teach writing.
Blogging seemed only natural. I’m creeping up on my one year anniversary of the birth of my blog, so I couldn’t wait to introduce it to my students this year. My eager group quickly embraced the idea and even began blogging independently without prompts from me. Once they discovered commenting, well, let’s just say, they were hooked!
Along the way, I realized I wasn’t grading their work. I was having so much fun modeling, discussing, and exploring with them, but I knew I hadn’t created a rubric. Was I slacking as a teacher? Uh oh! Conferences and report cards were approaching and I had nothing to show about the blogging. My gut instinct told me that I shouldn’t grade their blogs. I just couldn’t do it.
This weekend at #rscon11, I discovered that I was not alone in my “not grading” approach to the students’ blogs. During the sessions I attended, blogging with students was a topic that was discussed frequently. Presenters and participants all agreed that blogging is NOT to be graded. Would any of us want our own blogs graded? Everyone agreed that it would be counter-productive as well as a way to discourage students from blogging.
Through the Reform Symposium sessions, I received the validation of my instinct. Grading their blogs would turn this joyful, engaging, and exciting venture into another assignment rather than the authentic learning that it is meant to be for students. I will not risk dampening the fire they have for blogging by slapping a rubric or a grade on it.
Every so often, it feels so good to be right about a decision.
So thanks, #rscon11.