As a part of a 7th grade Current Issues class, my students watch CNN Student news a couple times a week. Usually, once a week, students have an opportunity to write on the A-Z Blog to give their opinion about a current news story. Generally the students enjoy the activity. This is in large part due to the fact that they see their comments cue up alongside comments from students all over the country. They can even reply to other comments and begin conversations with other students.
Occasionally, Carl Azuz, the anchor for the show, will select a few of the comments to read during the news show. My students sit and watch anxiously every week hoping that a comment from the class will be read. I have explained several times that over 500 students usually comment on the blog, so the chances of having a comment read are slim.
This week it finally happened. One of the comments written from a student in our class was read on the show, and the student loved it.
Why am I telling you about this? I don’t really care if students are writing on a highly publicized blog like CNN or a classroom blog. Students need to know that what they write is public. They need to know that through different mediums on the internet, they have a voice in a global conversation. The problem is that a great number of teachers are still having their student write a paper or do an assignment that never goes further than the teacher’s desk. They have no audience, so there is not a whole lot of motivation to do a good job or in many cases, even complete the work.
This small incident definitely opened the eyes of my students. I am guessing that the next time we write on the A-Z blog, they will all work that much harder knowing that their voice does matter and can be heard by global audience. They have now seen how it works with their own eyes.
Find a way to give students a voice. Whether it is writing a paper, participating on a blog, or publishing a cartoon, help students understand that their work does matter. With the web, their work is not just for the teacher anymore. There are others out there who will appreciate what they have to say.