Point England School

The Canadian Globe & Mail writes:

One reason students phone in their school assignments – and only halfheartedly copy edit and research them – is that they’re keenly aware that there’s no “authentic audience.” Only the teacher is reading it. In contrast, academic studies have found that whenever students write for other actual, live people, they throw their back into the work – producing stuff with better organization and content, and nearly 40 per cent longer than when they write for just their instructor.

Smart teachers have begun to realize they can bring this magic into the classroom. In Point England, New Zealand – a low-income area with high illiteracy rates – the educators had long struggled to get students writing more than a few sentences. So they set up blogs, had the students post there and, crucially, invited far-flung family and friends to comment. At first, the students grumbled. But once they started getting comments from Germany and New York, they snapped to attention.

“They realized they were writing for a global audience,” one of the educators, Colleen Gleeson, told me. They began closely critiquing each other’s writing, finessing it for the folks abroad, such as pondering which local references a foreigner would not understand. By the second year, this explosion of writing was evident in their test scores, some of the schools that had adopted the blogging experiment – schools that had long lagged behind the country – were making advances 10 to 13 times larger than the national average, and some had risen all way to the average.

Good to see the great advances being made by Point England getting global attention. And really smart to use blogs as a way to get feedback for students and involve extended family.

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