Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Writers workshop

Today I booked the computer lab for my two writing workshop classes, period 1 and period 3. I also booked the data projector and laptop. What was I planning to do with all this technology? Well, it wasn’t about the technology, it was about the information; this is as you would expect. The students came into the room and logged on to pick up the message I had sent: it was a reading assignment. Inspired by Anne Davis I asked my students to get onto A School of Voices and read the posts and respond if they’d like; some did. Then there was the blog of the group at Nanyang Girls High School in Singapore who were the winners (out of 20 schools) in a blogging competition run jointly by the Ministry of Education and Singapore Telecommunications. The “blogs were evaluated in terms of the depth and clarity of thought as well as the creativity of presentation by a panel.” These blogs were very interesting to read, and the students were engaged in reading and discussing what they read for nearly the whole period. It was interesting for me because once again there was a great point of contact with the international students in one of my classes who were able to decipher the writing in a photo of a newspaper article written in Chinese about the winning bloggers.
After they’d had some time reading, I brought them up around the screen where we looked at some of our class blogs (although some students were too shy to have theirs discussed). We looked at what made some entries so successful that they had attracted a lot of comments (obviously they had been able to communicate an idea that resonated with others). The students’ comments and discussion during this activity were perceptive and involved a lot of participation from many students. They then eagerly (or am I dreaming? I thought it was like that) went back to their computers to write their own blog entries.
The period three class was half of a double (2 times 57 minutes). When that finished we had to leave the computer room, pick up some laptops and keep writing. I do look forward to reading these latest entries, as now we have finished the poetry anthologies the student will be free to write about what interests them. My suggestions to them will be to write about something they have learned lately, whether in or out of school, but that is mainly for those who don’t have an idea themselves. I think the reading of other blogs and the freedom of topic should result in more learning about good writing.

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