Image via Creative Commons, by Mattias Ripp: “Keys to the heart? No only the office”

I’ve been blogging with students for roughly six years now.  The magic of blogging resides in the space we leave rather than the perimeters we establish. In the mad dash that is an academic year, one thing begs for our attention:  student autonomy.  Where and when do we give students the chance to think about their ideas? To produce ideas? To shape thought? To engage not because we demand it, but because they are well…engaged.

Via Flickr Creative Commons Karola Riegler Thinking... please wait

Via Flickr Creative Commons
Karola Riegler
Thinking… please wait

My final COETAIL project is about investing time in my students.  Investing time in student voice, time for them to find their voice.  This unit is not a stand alone unit, but rather is a ‘sidebar’ to our studies.  This unit is about consolidating teaching and learning time to ensure that our blogs are allowing students to do what they set out to do: connect.  Over the past few months of establishing blogs in my high school classes, I am gobsmacked whenever a student asks, “What should I call this post?”  I’ve realized if they are asking that question, they must not feel a sense of ownership over their space.  And if that is true, I must treat it as a symptom of a bigger issue: these blogs feel less about them, and more about ‘requirements,’ and ‘getting it right.’  That’s not learning, that is falling into line.

Via Flickr Creative Commons "Navigator" by Thomas Abbs

Via Flickr Creative Commons
“Navigator” by Thomas Abbs

Sometimes before you move forward, you need to stand still, check the map:  is this where you want to go? Where are you right now? Which direction needs correcting?

That’s what this unit is about:  correcting and realigning my intentions with student blogging.  Technology should empower.  If we value that, we need to provide time and space for said empowerment to happen.  Sometimes the most important thing a teacher can do is to establish the right environment for growth, and then let the seeds find their own way through.

Is that frustrating at times?  Yes.  But maybe that isn’t a bad thing:

So here we go, have a look at my UBD planner.  It is still a work in progress.  What are your thoughts on developing autonomy in the classroom? What are your obstacles?