Thursday, February 9, 2012

What a rush

There has been a lingering voice in the back of conscience over the past couple of weeks telling me that I should have updated my blog long ago. I can hear it loud and clear but haven't done anything about it until this afternoon. Sometimes I don't have a thoughtful enough topic on my mind to blog about. Usually, however, I simply don't have enough spare time to sit down and craft out the next literary masterpiece* that will be posted onto my blog.

If I can't write a post that I feel happy with then I will either save it in it's current state as a draft and re-visit it later or, depending on how far I've got, delete it entirely. This blog is not private - anyone can read it. Furthermore, I only blog about issues, ideas and topics that are related to my professional life and it wouldn't be hard for one of my colleagues to track it down on the net. So I have a personal responsibility to myself to ensure that the work that I publish is of a quality that I deem acceptable. Once I've put something out there it's out there for good and represents me!

This got me thinking about my students. Whether its written book work or something that they compose on-line, there are some students who take their time and worry about every letter of every word they write. There are others who have to be the first finished despite the quality of their work. There are those who don't care what they produce or if they even finish - although I've gladly never experienced many students like this. Others fit somewhere in between these groups. In Grade Four, and other grades, we focus heavily using the writing process when we complete our work. Traditionally my students have had experience using this when authoring work for a particular genre. Sometimes on a computer, but not always. We try to emphasise that this process of planning, drafting, editing, re-drafting and publishing isn't only limited to story writing - it's used everywhere in some shape or form.

In my class we've recently been participating in some quad blogging with three other classes from different countries around the world. It's been great for my students to connect with these peers and have the chance to offer and receive feedback about their work. We've also been talking about 'quality comments' and what they involve. Some of the students have written fantastic comments, really thinking about what they can say to praise and also improve the work that they've looked at. Others have found it more difficult and are still writing comments that are shallow and don't really offer much feedback. The authoring process applies here just as it does when writing a story, report or poem - perhaps in a different form, but it exists nonetheless. When my students post a comment they are posting a representation of themselves and if it isn't of a quality that reflects them then its stuck out there forever for anyone to see.

Next month my class is participating in an action research project which will explore whether quad blogging can improve the quality of writing amongst students. We will pre and post assess the students based on certain criteria with the goal to discover if the four weeks worth of quality commenting will improve the students' writing. It's important that the students understand the purpose for this writing and take as much time as they need so they can contribute something that they truly feel proud of. I'm looking forward to working through this process with them.

* Errant ramblings.....