I’ve had a class blog, iseroma.com, for several years. Up until now, it’s mostly been a place to post updates and information for students and their families.
This year, however, iseroma.com is taking off. The reason: I’ve decided to share it with my students so they can post content themselves.
It’s clear that this decision is resulting in better classroom culture and higher academic achievement.
Better classroom culture
When students come to the site and see their peers’ content, it’s no longer just an adult, official space. It’s a dynamic, interactive space. Students comment on and praise their peers’ work. They post a tweet in the sidebar. They check out photos and videos and monitor what’s popular. In short, the positive classroom culture we’re cultivating at school gets extended into the online space.
Some may argue that the same can be done with a Facebook page or group. We have one of those, too, but I’m finding that my students like keeping FB a personal space. I do, too. When you’re on iseroma.com, you’re doing school. When you’re on FB, you’re not. There’s nothing wrong with separation.
Higher academic achievement
The blog offers an authentic space for student work. When students know their work will appear online, their motivation rises. Their audience is no longer just the teacher but rather their classmates and people around the world.
One student just tweeted: “currently looking at the APers work on iseroma. TOTALLY wicked.” There’s pride in doing academic work and encouragement to do better after viewing the excellence of peers.
In addition, their work doesn’t disappear. It’s saved, like a portfolio, and it’s easily accessible by clicking on their picture on the class page. This permanence will allow students to see their growth in digital form.