If your blog post fell in the forest would anybody read it?

Making thinking public and visible outside of the normal classroom walls is a great way to help engage students in meaningful and purposeful work. Teachers often fall into the trap of having students present their work to classroom peers or even just the teacher. While I like this practice as a part of robust and healthy peer critique, it’s been my experience that when teachers build an authentic public audience into their teaching and learning the engagement and purpose goes up a notch as does the quality of work.



So if we’re going to have students write, let’s have them create and share blog posts, right? I see this often as I work with teachers around project based learning and almost as often I come back with this…I wonder who will read it? It’s easy to mistake making work public with making work authentic. Heck, as my friend Dayna Laur points out, it’s even easy to Fake an Authentic Classroom. Creating and publishing a blog post is a nice step for many students (and teachers!) but if nobody reads it besides the teacher how is that much different from turning in an essay on paper? Part of making work authentic means the audience is going to use the information and thinking being shared. There are certainly some ways to publish student blogs and attract readership and interaction with other classes and students anywhere in the world but what if we asked our students to “guest blog”? Would students have to clearly identify their purpose and needs of their intended audience? How might this foster critical thinking and include deeper learning of content? Would they have to communicate clearly and effectively and could we build in rich opportunities for reflection and revision?



Clearly this might take some planning, vetting and monitoring on behalf of the teacher but here are some examples of where students might be guest bloggers:

Of course a quick Google search will turn up other results but thinking about your content and finding appropriate blogs might be another way to seek out possible authentic audiences. Having students making contact and requesting to share their thinking could be a great way to build purpose and meaning into their content learning while increasing their network of resources and skillset for the future.

Speaking of blogs, don’t forget to check out the CTL blog which is searchable by tags and include some guest posts as well.


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