A little seed of an idea.
But where did you come from? Perhaps you were left behind, scattered, by a well-meaning guide? A number of you always are. Or, perhaps, you were forged from the alchemy of discussion, crackling into existence with unexpected force. Or, maybe, you have just always been there, hiding, waiting to tumble into view? Regardless, you’re here.
You need time to germinate, and a fertile place to do it.
Where? Here, there, anywhere where you can be bathed in thoughtful concentration, tended and nurtured by iteration upon iteration of reflective adjustments and warmed by the energising potential of conversation.
When? Now. And this evening. And twenty minutes tomorrow. And thirty minutes the day after. Whenever it feels right. Whenever the need to stretch and grow demands it. And other times, to schedule, when we know the conditions are right, when light and nourishment are plentiful.
And then, when you’ve flourished and bloomed, visitors, invited or otherwise, can come and acknowledge you, among those many others that have flowered. And these visitors can leave tributes – seeds of their own – or they may brush up against you, as they move along their way, pollen clinging unwittingly to them, destined to spawn others like you.
And so here you are. Just there.
A little seed of an idea.”
All of this is a rather poetic way of outlining the process of blogging I follow in my classroom. What follows is formulaic, but should be seen in the light of my own ideal that students’ writing must have the opportunity to move beyond the limited purposes which I can imagine for it.
- Provide students with a range of prompts or ideas, in written or oral form. Give them choice. Allow them to transcend those choices.
- Provide students with a scaffold or success criteria for the blog (as restrictive or open as the needs of the students require). This might include none, any or all of the following: word length, requirements for multimedia use, referencing and attribution guides, variations in font size, weight and colour, structure of content etc.
- Provide time for students to write in class, while also giving them plenty of time to write at home too. I often find that quality writing needs quieter, more isolated environments, more so than most classrooms naturally provide. I tend to ensure that there is always at least one weekend available for the students to use, if they wish.
- Commit time in class (minimum 40 minutes) for reading and discussing the students’ post via the medium of digital conversations (comments on the blogs) and paired, group or whole class discussions. I encourage (and sometimes require) students to share additional material in the form of links or questions at the commenting stage. Whole class discussions typically focus on the ideas provoked by the blogs.
- Repeat. At least four times.