There was a recent discussion in my classroom about allowance. It was lunchtime, and a small group of students was comparing how much allowance, if any, they received each week. The range was wide, of course; some students didn’t receive any allowance, and there was one lucky student who reported getting $10 each week.
Their conversation got me thinking about the kinds of allowance we teachers get. It would be easy to compare the monetary allowances that are given to teachers each year, which would most likely range from next to nothing to the $1,000 I was given at a past school district. But I also started thinking about the other allowances we get, the permissions and freedoms we get in order to teach our students.
I will admit to a small fit of jealousy recently as I read about the Student Blogging Challenge, and all of the students who were participating. Kids from around the world were blogging, commenting, interacting and learning online. My district has recently “battened down the hatches” and has made it more challenging for teachers to set up blogging experiences for students. In many ways I understand where they are coming from: they want to protect students and make sure that everyone is safe. Yet at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this hyperattention to safety is leaving my students behind. Are my students going to be at a disadvantage because they can’t blog? How is my “allowance” impacting them?
Will Richardson recently blogged about teachers being learners, and how we need to be exploring our passions. I’m beginning to think that I need to make this a passion of mine, because I’m suspecting that I will need to be an advocate for change.
Because I know it will take cold, hard numbers to get the attention of many, here’s what I think I’m going to explore:
I plan to examine the difference in 4th through 6th grade students’ writing achievement, as measured on standardized writing tests, between those students who are able to blog and receive comments, and those who are not.
To break it down even further:
Who: 4th-6th grade students
What: those who can blog and receive comments and those who can’t
Why: difference in writing achievement, as measured on standardized writing tests.
I don’t exactly know where this will take me. Perhaps I will discover that my students are just fine without their online experiences. But at the same time, I can’t help but think that they may be missing out because of my “allowance.”