I've been quite pleased with the way my students' blogs have progressed this year, considering the caution with which I have proceeded. I originally had volunteer Blog Coaches from my online network ready to interact with my students but Al Upton's class blog controversy and some advice I received in the aftermath had me re-thinking that concept. It was a shame because I really appreciated the helping hands that were offered to my students freely - and I feel as if I never really showed that appreciation properly.
A lot of online interactions in the edublogosphere are built on goodwill and that may be why many of us (education bloggers and twitterers) are reluctant to criticise (even constructively) others because we don't want to sour the potential to collaborate. And that's what I'd like to leverage now - some of your goodwill.
My students are starting an inquiry unit "What Makes Us Australian?" and I figure that their blogs are the ideal platform from which to explore more about their place in the world. But I need some help. My students don't have an online learning network of their own to help shape their thinking - so I want them to borrow mine. They have created posts that list 10 things they feel are unique to Australia. If you feel inclined pop over to my post on the class blog and follow the listed links to one of their posts, have a read and leave them some observation or feedback about their choices. You will notice that several people have already read and commented on some of the first posts from the class - their participation has already created a buzz and authenticity to the discussion that would not have occurred within the four walls of our classroom only. Having new perspective (especially from outside Australia) will be valuable in forcing them to justify their choices, consider new information and deepen their own understanding of the topic. This is different to the angle Doug Noon and I delved into last year on our Spin The Globe wiki and will be a much more individual exploration.
Thanking you in advance for becoming new teachers for my students - you may even learn a thing or two about Aussies in the process.
I’ve added a link to your students’ blogs on our Tell the Raven site. It should be interesting to see how the interactions between the classes change this year, with the different publishing platforms.
Thanks for that Doug. I’ll do likewise and point my kids towards your site – maybe a less structured, more relevant probe into each others’ lives might be more engaging and relevant.
Matthew K. Tabor
Just sent a tweet about this – reading through all those lists and commenting was great fun. At the very least, your kids should know that it was both interesting and entertaining to read through the lists.
Could you partner up with an American educator who is using blogs to do exactly the same project, ie. a ‘ten unique things?’ Even if a class made a single list together and compared it to all yours, I think all the students would find some of the similarities – and unique differences – remarkable.
It’s incredibly interesting to note how we do so many similar things but do them our own, unique way. I was struck by several of your students mentioning Anzac Day and Anzac biscuits. Hardtack is basically a simplified version of the Anzac biscuit and played an important role in many of our wars – and people in Alaska still eat hardtack [also called pilot bread there, I think] regularly.
They might be surprised to know that up in the Alaskan tundra, people are still eating what is essentially an Anzac biscuit.
Great project – look forward to following it all.
Matthew, I have been thrilled with the willingness of educators to comment on my students’ blogs and your contributions really show exactly how to connect knowledge from what they know to what you know and challenge them into re-thinking their pre-conceived ideas. It may take a few days before my students respond to build on your comments – as we are disconnecting and off to camp for the rest of the week.
Thought I left a comment earlier but maybe it was on the classroom blog?
Anyway, I did a workshop with a Hong Kong local school today and took them to your kids blogs. They are hearing impaired so you can imagine the fun of trying to get them to do as you wish when you don’t even speak their mother tongue!
Anyway, many have made comments, albeit poorly considered ones on your kids blogs. I am hopeful that the kids can do some writing of their own and we can get some sharing going. The teachers commented that your kids language was too advanced so we may try to find a primary to connect with but see if there is interest amoungst your kids.