I told them today that people would be looking at their blog posts today and the rest of the week--teachers and students. A nervous, tangible ripple moved through the room. I raised an eyebrow and asked them what was the matter.
"I'm nervous about this."
"I don't want to look dumb."
We addressed and eased their fears by listing out some strategies to deal with the nervousness and the "looking dumbness." But the most important response that followed that was:
"Why are we doing this?"
I rambled at them with the typical teacher reasons, such as the Common Core standards, how I wanted them to be better writers because good writers are good thinkers. But then I noted the glazed-over looks on some of their faces, and I decided to be completely honest with them.
"We're doing this because I want you to find your own voice. Because I want you to be able to deal with an authentic audience--an audience you're going to find out there after you graduate from this building. A global audience that is much larger than me, this building, or this town. And I want you to carve out your own little piece of that audience, stake a claim on it, and not be afraid to stand on your soapbox from it. You need to build your own online confidence, and that starts now--not after you graduate."
Some were still in their glazed-over cocoon. Others eyeballed me thoughtfully. But one student responded, "Man. This is, like, real."
Exactly. That's why we blog.