I want my students to be readers and writers. Essentially, I want them to be communicators. That sounds simple, but it is actually quite complex, especially once you try incorporating the nuances of the world in which we live. This isn´t even thinking about the future. I am talking about today. This very moment.
I want my students to see that communicating effectively is a skill that they will need no matter what they are passionate about. This is not just a classroom exercise; this is life. This is today and this will be the future.
I want them to feel that they are expressing their uniqueness and that it is appreciated by other people. In high school, students are afraid of not fitting in, yet as we get older, we search more for what makes us special or unique (or at least I do).
I want my students to see the value that they have to offer the world. Writing about their passions and interests is one way to do that. I want my students to write on Medium because it shows them that they can have a voice and that people are interested in what they have to say.
It all started with this post called How I got on Medium. It was written by a student about her experiences with getting distracted by everything she loved and not completing her homework. In the process, she found a new passion. I responded with my own post: How to Impress Your Teacher.
As a result of all this, I introduced Medium to my students as an optional assignment. It was just another chance for them to show me how much they had learned before they went off on their summer holidays. It was also a chance for me to see how much their writing improves when it is about something important in their lives.
For many students it was their first time using any sort of online publishing platform and they were not sure how to navigate the site. That learning in itself would be valuable for any student.
However, I had also given them the added challenge of trying to get their article published within a publication on Medium. This forced them to explore the site and find a publication that would have the correct audience for what they wanted to write. They also had to figure out how to submit their draft to the publication. Once their work was accepted, they also got to interact with the editors of that particular publication about their work.
This experience gave them far more than I, a lone teacher, could ever hope to provide for them. I provided them with the information and the rest was all up to them and other people who owed them nothing. That means my students got published on the merit of their own ideas and their writing. That´s all.
Then I got the rewards. I got emails like this one:
I don’t know if I’ve told you this enough but I want to say a tremendous thanks to you for showing me the wonderful world of Medium and The Synapse. I kid you not: I’m addicted to writing for them. As much as I absolutely love writing, not in a million years would I have ever thought of becoming a student writer for a publication. You showed me how amazing it can be to write not only for yourself and for school but also for a public.
and this one:
Thank you, I’m so glad you introduced Medium to all of us. I think I am going to stick with it and continue to write- partially for myself, and hopefully for others as well!
and this one:
It honestly feels great to write in front of a big audience, it’s a feeling I never had before! Thanks again for encouraging us to use this website!
and I get to read amazing work by my students! What more can a teacher ask for!?
That was last year. When I introduced Medium to my students before I had already built a rapport with them. I also made it optional.
Now I am in a new school year with different classes and different students. If I want more students to have the experiences that my students had last year, how do I incorporate Medium into my curriculum? If it is mandatory will my students have a different type of experience than those students who chose to try it last year?
Now I need to figure out what role Medium is going to play in my class this year.
I want to thank Robinson Greig for his article Let´s Use Medium to Teach Students How to Write and inspiring to share my experiences with doing exactly that. If any other teachers have tried using Medium in with their students I would love to hear about it!