We spend so much time in school teaching children to write, almost always for some invisible, “authentic” audience in their future. And now, as I’m reading my students’ end -of-term thoughts about having maintained blogs for several months, I read how any number of them have struggled with shifting gears — from writing a perfectly drafted essay for the eyes of a teacher, to writing for and within a community of learners and professionals. They seem to be experiencing in this one assignment exactly the shift that we assume that all students will make, seamlessly and effortlessly, from writing within classroom walls to writing for the world.
And it’s not always easy.
Granted, the blogging is a still a course assignment. Granted, it’s been an unbelievably hectic term.
But I wonder: while we’re so busy assessing kids’ writing within school, do we have research on the transition that all kids must then make on writing for “real” audiences? Do we assume that the transfer just happens? What do we know about the ways that people experience that shift?
And how can I support these amazing teachers in also thinking about the authenticity of the writing instruction that they do in classrooms, if the only audience is a teacher, or perhaps, occasionally, a peer reviewers?
I’m intrigued by thinking about writing (and by writing, I mean digitally composing texts that may include images, hyperlinks, video, other media) as connecting – now, not in the distant future, and I’ll be thinking a lot over break about how to continue to support that goal for these blogs.
One thing I’ll be looking through again is the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, created by and for teachers connecting around writing — beyond the classroom walls.