Monday, March 9, 2009

Confessions of a Bad Blogger

I have a confession to make – I've been going about this blog all wrong. And it took a 13-year-old student to make me realize this.

Today in my class we began reading the student-friendly version of John Grogan's Marley and Me. Anticipating an easy read with plenty of opportunity for student reactions and anecdotes, I set up a blog where my kids can share thoughts. Before reading, I took about ten minutes to go over the blog.

Despite its 2005 induction into the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of blog is surprisingly elusive. When I asked my 155+ followers on Twitter to define blog, they were surprisingly quiet (which is a word rarely used to describe the social micro blogging site). Even I couldn't nail down a quality definition that I felt truly encompasses what a good blog is capable of achieving.

So without a best answer, I turned to the kids. Before showing them the Marley Blog, I asked them to define the word. Their answers were pretty good, but one boy hit the nail on the head. I had tried to generate an elaborate definition that spoke of collaboration, reflection, insight, and analysis. He said all that in one simple statement.

“Blogging is an open journal.”

And this was the moment I realized I had been going about this blog all wrong. I originally started it a year ago at Edublogs as a place for me to feature some of the free and open source programs that I used regularly in class. Despite some of my attempts to make the posts witty or entertaining, they usually came across as informative but dull. They read more like infomercials, and that certainly is not the point of blogging.

I was not treating this blog like an open journal. When you steal your big sister's diary from her room, you read the whole thing to get a picture of her inner-most secrets. You don't care that some entries are better than others - it's the big picture that counts. I've been missing that with my blog. Instead of sharing my thoughts on day-to-day happenings, I've been carefully planning each post.

So my door is now open. Will you sneak a peak at my open journal?

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