The other day I was conducting a PD day looking at how schools are using blogs and what is involved in setting them up. One of the blogs I looked at was Josh C’s Passion Project Blog. Now Josh’s blog is remarkable for a number of reasons. Amongst his 120+ peers, Josh had by far the most content, Josh also generated far more comments than any of his peers. Josh had also adopted within his writing three different personas, there was Josh the student, “The Observer” and “The Fanatic”. Each of the writers write from a different point of view and with their own personal style even though they are all the work of one student Josh.
One other standout features of Josh’s blog is that he has a number of misspellings in his work. Sometimes these are clearly because he has hit the wrong keys, other errors are because he is using words that he doesn’t yet know how to spell and some my well be failure to proff-read is work before publishing. Either way the number of errors is a relatively low and the errors do not interfere with the reader’s level of understanding of the piece.
As usually happens when I show Josh’s blog people readily appreciate the effort and work that has gone into this blog. It is isn’t long though before someone makes comment on the spelling. The question usually follows, “How does the school feel about work with incorrect spelling in it being published?” I usually answer that the school often doesn’t know as not many of the teachers or principal class actually have time to read all of these blogs. As a result it falls back to the class teacher. I also note that there had not been any parent comments regarding the spelling. I then usually question whether the readers can understand and make sense of the work that Josh has written about. The standard response is “Yes, I can understand it quite clearly but……..” I then usually note that I had interviewed Josh about his blog and blogging in general and that he acknowledged he had problems with spelling. He also says that he wished the blogging program had better spellchecker but that the most important aspect of blogging is the freedom to write.
The interview where I interview Josh about his Passion Project blog can be found at Podomatic.
For some teachers the problems with the spelling are a real sticking point. They see it that anything going out to world from a school should be correct. Anything less reflects badly on the school and the educational ethos fo the school. Others, as I tend to, see the blog as a developmental space where students are encouraged to experiment and use interesting terminology in the full knowledge that in some cases spelling errors may occur. I see that unless the contents of the blog are unitelligible then the place for learning spelling is outside the blog. I would be interested to know other’s thoughts on this issue.
In closing, the other most interesting aspect of Josh’s blog is that even though he no longer attends primary school and has his secondary school work to consider, Josh is continuing to post to his Passion Project blog. Testament indeed that the blog space is truly meaningful to him.