One of our Year 9 students, Nathan, is a passionate young man who is engaging with his world and forming his views of that world and how it should be. I encourage all students to think for themselves, to challenge the status quo, to reimagine a better world, and here is Nathan doing just that, testing ideas.
I assume that he was prompted by the topical debate around free speech that centred around Don Brash, and then the two controversial Canadian speakers, recently in New Zealand. Nathan wrote a blog post which began like this:
Being an enterprising young, Nathan approached Don Brash over social media to comment, and to his credit Don Brash did indeed comment. I am not aware than Nathan has any other personal connection with Dr Brash. Here is Dr Brash's comment.
Nathan also received comments from three teachers (myself included). These were good natured posts as you would expect, each of us in our own way testing argument, putting forward alternative views etc.
My post isn't about the content of the argument. It is about the authenticity of the learning. Nathan engaged with a significant person currently engaged in this very debate in the real world. He had an exchange of views with an 'expert', someone well informed on the topic (remember that you don't have to agree with their points of view).
This is an example of the 'affordance' of the digital technology. This is an example of a connection that would not have been possible without the digital technology (the Chromebook).
Good writing develops when it is purposeful, when it has a real audience, an authentic audience. Writing structures can be taught, but writing volume that reflects deeper thinking develops when real people are reading and responding to it. True learning occurs in authentic contexts.
This is why "Learn Create Share", explored in digital contexts, is accelerating writing at twice the national averages.
Blogging can be a powerful tool for learning. Student blogging incorporates all three components of the 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. It needs scaffolding, it needs application and effort, it needs support and comment. Blog comments are the ultimate differentiated feedback for all of us, a great way to support individualised learning pathways for learners.
You can read Nathan's blog post, and the comments, here.