I recently joined Edublogs Teacher Challenge so I could explore ways to make blogging a more natural part of our classroom routine and help students use their blogs for some real world writing experiences. Our 8th graders recently finished research papers and as we debriefed, we discussed how the skills would be valuable in the real world. We generated multiple ways that we research, evaluate sources, analyze material, and put it together to make decisions in our everyday lives. Yet, when it is time to turn it into writing for a school activity, it seems to become a chore. It made me wonder about what turns reading and writing from enjoyable and valuable activities to something that so many people dread. Is it the writing itself or is it this false purpose of writing for the sake of writing that causes the resistance? Blogging seems like a great way to help students find their way to writing in the real world. We have some great examples of writing and blog design on our pages. Make sure to check out our author’s efforts!
As you can tell from the blog’s background, I am a little obsessed with Chicago. I love the city; the diversity, the action, the festivals, the architecture. I also love bicycling. My husband and I have been bicycling together since high school. (Yep, we are high school sweethearts and will be celebrating our 27th anniversary this December) As a matter of fact, we met in our high school bicycling class. I know that sounds strange, but we went to a large high school and could pick the type of PE class we wanted each quarter. I will be forever grateful for that class. Anyway, before I get too mushy……we often go bicycling in the city. It is not unusual for us to pack up the bikes and hit the Lakefront trail as well as some neighborhoods on a Sunday afternoon. This past Sunday we participated in the Four Star Bike and Chow tour. It was an amazing ride. We rode 43 miles through the most beautiful and diverse neighborhoods that demonstrate how unique each part of the city is and how a city grows and develops around cultural pockets. We then rode another 7 miles to go to our favorite pizza place for lunch. As I was enjoying the perfect weather and checking out the absolute beauty in the architecture, I rode past a church having a picnic. There was this group of people connected by their religion, their neighborhood, or whatever else drew them there and I had an epiphany. It doesn’t matter where you live, it is about making connections. We all need that…humans are social and we need to find and build those relationships. I think of our class this way as well. Although I have six sections and see roughly 125 students a day, it is about making those connections as we journey together on a literacy path. Words are the tools we have to reach each other. Our reading and writing experiences help us reflect on our choices and expose us to new ideas and perspectives. I am so proud of everyone as we have been engaging in our writing workshop. I see the same things I saw on my bike trip. Communities coming together to build, create, and grow. Just like the diverse neighborhoods, each section works just a little differently, but it makes my day so fun because it is never quite the same even though the skills we are learning are based on the same foundation. Keep reading, writing, and collaborating and you will reap the rewards.