Honor Our Attempts

Claire Thompson left this comment on a recent post pointing to Jan Smith's classroom blog and the disclaimer that sits on the left sidebar of her blog. This is a huge issue for many teachers considering posting work online. Not only are the worried about controlling content and concerned about how others will view the quality of the work.

Typically classroom bulletin boards are dedicated to finished, edited, polished work. Most classrooms do not want to draw attention to the mistakes or efforts of their students. They are comfortable with sharing the best products but would rather hide the process. While that may be a generalization, I would argue that it's fairly accurate.

I've struggled myself when it comes to helping others recognize spaces dedicated to practice and at the same time finding places to set aside work that has been created, revised and reworked. Blogs in general often get a bad name from the public because by their very nature they aren't intended to be definitive spaces, but rather conversation starters. But of what makes blogs what they are, is the ability to elicit comments. Ideally this should include critique and feedback to enable further learning. This is where most classroom and school relate blogs fail. They do not either have enough feedback from a variety of perspectives that includes both peer and outside responses or the feedback lacks depth and specifics. Creating a culture that encourages openeness and respectful, helpful critique is challenging and requires skillful teachers determined to build this meaningful community of learners.

By the looks of things Jan Smith is trying.

I'd love a response to any or all of these questions:

What have you done or seen that helps people understand how you're using your online learning space?

What have you done to support your students in providing critique and meaningful feedback for each other?

How have you been able to bring in outside voices to give feedback for your students?