The night before she started her Spring Semester classes at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York City, Susan Ettenheim participated in a dialogue via skype with teachers from four different Writing Projects: Paul Allison (NYC), Matt Makowetski (South Coast, CA), Bill O’Neal (Trenton, NJ), and Bob LeVin (Area 3 in CA). This is a podcast of that conversation.
Along with Chris Sloan in Salt Lake City (Utah WP), the six of us are beginning a complex, exciting collaboration with our students in an elgg, YouthVoices.net. Listen as we plan, take a look at Susan’s introduction to her students, and consider joining us. You might leave a comment here, then go over to YouthVoices and see what all the excitement is about.
Writing like the post that we’ve copied here makes it easy to listen to what our students think about our work with them. Here’s what a 9th grader in Chris Sloan’s class thinks about blogging at YouthVoices.net:
What makes a good blog post, by Parker at Judge Memorial High School, Salt Lake City
To create a really good blog post, I really think that people need to open up to the readers. Honesty is most effective, because the actual emotion that others put down is probably something that others have experienced, or can relate to. For example, i just read a letter a girl wrote to her father, but he passed away four years ago. It was the most personal, morose, true example of sadness that i have ever read, let alone on youthvoices. I don’t know anything like that personally, but the raw openness made it something that i felt, not just read. I’ve also published some poems on the site, and i’ve gotten some varied, but positive, responses to those, and that’s encouraging. more below
This was the kind of conversation that needed more time. Listen as nine teachers from six states — Paul Allison, NY, Lee Baber, VA , Glen Bledsoe, OR, Susan Ettenheim, NY, Kevin Hodgson, MA, Eric Hoefler, VA, Matt Makowetski, CA, Chris Sloan, UT, and Ken Stein, NY (plus a father from China) — who use blogs, discussion boards, and other Web-based communication tools in their classrooms tell stories about the first half of the academic year. We report on what we have been learning about blogging (and using wikis) with students. We also begin to talk about what our plans are for the remainder of the year.
In the comments at the bottom of this post, please join us with your thoughts about what you’ve learned teaching students to communicate online. What are your stories? Let’s see how many more states — and countries — we can add to the list as we check in with colleagues from all over the globe.
We also want to talk about how to help students who will be ending their classes with us in January can find some closure with their blogs without closing off the possiblities of keeping an ongoing blog.
And please join us next week — and every Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern — in the text chat room at EdTechTalk.com.
Paul Allison calls in from the airport in Atlanta on the way to Nashville for the annual meeting of The National Writing Project and Susan Ettenheim, Teb Locke, Madeline Brownstone and Lee Baber host a conversation about this week’s challenges with students and online communication and collaboration. Sharon Peters shares her first adventures as her students join in the online conversation. Teb shares a very exciting discovery about introducing the mapping projects into the wiki. Here is an example of wiki with an embedded media player: http://theneighborhoodschool.org/wiki/index.php?title=Madison%2C_CT
Has writing really changed? What’s the difference — really — between writing an essay and writing a blog post? Has the use of images really changed the writing process? Digital technologies are great, but don’t we still have to teach kids how to write the way we always did? What’s the difference?
Our conversation this evening began innocently enough with Gail Desler, the technology liaison for the Area 3 Writing Project in and around Sacramento, California, describing her work over the past four years with blogging in the classroom. Last year 3 different Writing Projects and 5 schools joined together in a project called “Youth Voices: Coast to Valley.” Given that we have stolen their name, “Youth Voices” in an attempt to broaden our network of schools, we are delighted to include Gail and her teachers in the elgg at http://youthvoices.net! Last night Gail said that some of the same teachers from last year’s work would be joining the new Youth Voices. A great question that Gail has been asking is, “How can we sustain and deepen online conversations on a blog?” And part of this has to do with finding the right balance between personal blogging and common blogging around a theme or text.