Expanding on this, Alex explained that often in his experience with school, a teacher "might ask you to write something, but Mommy, you know no one is going to read it, so it's boring! Like, what for? But on my blog, I know people are reading it, and sometimes even leaving comments, so I have to do a good job."
Hmmm... good point, kid.
His insights caused me to reflect on my own practice as a teacher: In a regular classroom do I assign authentic writing tasks? Or are too many contrived? Who is the audience for my students' writing, and how does this affect their work?
I remember writing a story for "publication" when I was in Grade 6 or so... our whole school was participating, and the teacher librarian, who was leading the project, made a huge fuss about it. We were all very excited, and worked exceptionally hard on those pieces.
"Publication" has become easier in the virtual world of blogging and wikis and forums. With the click of a button, rough drafts can be made public for all the world to see.
There are new rules of etiquette to be learned and taught and enforced, and the technology is changing faster than many of us old teachers can keep up with. Still, the pros outweight the cons, I think, when it comes to motivating young writers.
A colleague recently shared this "blogging contract" with me. He co-created it with his class, and had each student sign it before embarking on their own blogging journey.