#SOL15: Day 22, Digital Learning Reaching for Authenticity

This post serves a dual purpose: my 22nd post in the Slice of Life Story Challenge and a link up to Margaret Simon’s Reflections of the Techie DigLit Sunday.


Last Sunday, Margaret wrote about the Authenticity Test. This “test” hit home with me.

This test includes two major priorities:

1. Is the activity used outside of school?


2. Is it a literate habit of experienced adults?

Just this week I feel like my students are close to passing these tests.


Blogging has lit up writing for my students. It’s real, alive. They love reading other blogs and getting comments. Just like us.

They get feedback from people who matter to them, their peers. Just like us.

But, blogging includes frustrations and problems. Just like us.

I can’t connect.

It’s slow.

It’s glicthy.

I can’t save.

I can’t find…

With 30 students, I can’t possibly solve their problems.. And that’s a good thing.

Blogging offers the opportunity to learn by doing. There are boundaries and expectations, but students want to get the post up. They want to upload the picture. They want to learn how to use the spelling tools.  My job is coach and cheerleader.  Their job is to try and try and try again until they get it.  Digital learning in the classroom allows students to figure out how to do things. Just like us.


I’ve borrowed iPads from another classroom.

I hear, “I can’t find my google doc on this iPad Mrs. Harmatz!”

“Use Safari and Google it,” I tell her and I walk away.

I come back five minutes later; she’s working on her doc.

Literacy skill and agency all courtesy of digital learning.

And finally, students are working outside of the classroom. On their own.

Check out  Zoe’s post. It popped up one night.

The next day, “Did you see my post? And it wasn’t easy, Mrs. Harmatz. I wrote it and then lost part of it, and I had to re-write it.” Just like us.

22 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 22, Digital Learning Reaching for Authenticity

  1. I love to see technology authentically woven into classrooms. You have done so in a meaningful way. Your students are so lucky. I would LOvE my boys to have you as a teacher!

  2. Ah, the joy and frustrations of our digital world. We’ve had more than a few snags navigating SOL15, commenting, etc. Yes, students share our world and our digital madness. Loved your comparison.
    Darla & Jen

  3. This is a lovely post, Julieanne. Your two questions about authenticity are good ones, and l like the way you have demonstrated your response with a link to Zoe’s blog. I’m very impressed with what she has written. You must be a very proud teacher. I like her choice in music. It is a great song that she has shared. I intend to share her post in my next one. Thank you.

  4. They are able to figure it out! I like all the points you made, Julieanne. The blogging has added to most of my students’ digital palette, too. I’m wondering if they will continue this summer?

  5. Those are the same questions Katie Wood Ray asks about writing assignments. They are powerful questions to guide all aspects of teaching. Love Zoe’s post! Maybe I need her to teach me how to upload a video. 🙂

  6. “Just like us” reminds me that we are powerful living examples for all of the young people in our lives. Love the authenticity test. I wonder if it depends on the adults’ roles in life as to whether they practice the activity or not?

  7. Julianne,
    Love the authenticiy test and the “just like us” refrain. So amazed by all your examples of student learning! So fortunate to call you friend!!!!

  8. I just love the authenticity of blogging and how you have captured it here. It would lead some teachers to total frustration, but you understand that it is all part of the authentic process. Thanks for joining today!

  9. True sign of learning when you can figure out the answer on your own based on your prior learning experiences!

  10. This reminds me of those “Celebrities: Just like us!” in USWeekly, but you’ve elevated it significantly. Love the authenticity test – will be spouting off about it right and left as we move into Test Season.

  11. I love these peeks into your classroom. Learning by doing is so powerful, and your students are so fortunate that you have given them the space and tools to try their hand at using technology that allows them to pursue their interests. What lucky, lucky students!

  12. Julieanne,
    Your post really shows the way digital literacy sets children up to solve problems on their own and have ownership in their learning. I’m amazed as I walk into classrooms where students just know to go to one another for help with technology challenges. Everyone knows Ava can help bring images into a post on an iPad. Students know that Afreen can help turn a Pixie story into a podcast. Isaac knows how to take an Explain Everything piece and move it into a video. All the while the teacher is just busy conferring and working with small groups. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your classroom. It sounds like blogging is off and running. The authenticity test is one to keep in my mind as we work with students.


  13. Hi Julieanne, I have now shared information about and links to your post, and Zoe’s post on my blog here: http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-q9 While I left a comment on Zoe’s post last night I have not provided her with the link to my blog as I wasn’t sure about the guidance you give your students in reading other blogs. I will leave the decision whether to share it with her or not in your hands. Once again, thank you for sharing this inspiring story. 🙂

  14. You are teaching them to fish. And that is hard work. And it is the most valuable work in the world. Yay Zoe. What a beautiful post. Look what she can DO! WOWIE. What a gift to these kids. Wish our high schoolers had this support. Blog on, teacher.

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