“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think”.
I spent Friday morning exploring the world of blogs with 150 7th graders. Their wonderful English teachers are giving them a gift: their own individual blogs. Assessed only for completion they will be geared towards passions, interests, and development of individual voice. The student excitement was contagious, and their engagement evident. I cannot wait to see what they will discover about themselves and one another, who the writers are and who the community builders will be!
I spent the first part of each class brainstorming with the students to identify what blogging is and how it is different than writing to an audience of 1.
We discussed Lord Byron's quote, and the students--in groups of about 40 separated by gender (we are piloting single gender classes at Lovett with great success)--were very clear about his poetry. "We have the ability to be influential with our words," they exclaimed. (I was impressed...) We talked about words, reflection, our voices, conversation and commentary, and the difference when you write in a social context.
After determining what makes blogging different than traditional classroom writing we started reading. We spend the majority of the class looking at a wide variety of blogs, everything from Cute Overload and Daily Kitten to World Changing and Huffington's Post to Bethany's Post on Spiders (and the comments!) and 7th Grade Students Blogging in Singapore. We read about first time horse ownership, basketball, tap dancing, and why Dino Guardio should be Coach of the Year. (OK, tonight's UNC domination of Wake Forest will have me eating crow tomorrow...)
It was fascinating to explore these sites with them looking at text, design, structure and discussing images, video, and copyright. They were blown away by the Clustr Maps, and intrigued by blogrolls and links. Be Funky avatars and Vokis were tempting diversions for the boys, while the girls wrestled with "does mine have to have just one 'theme'"?
We'll be in the labs on Tuesday and Wednesday getting started, and then I'll move into my observing, commenting, and tweaking role--working with teachers and students. I look forward to sharing their voices from time to time. And I hope this community with help them grow. The classroom home sites are English 7 Blue and English 7 White.
PS: If you'd care to see the initial overview with links to the various blogs we considered, I've attached the document below.
Additional Photo References: Average Audience of Student Work, By Edublogger