Sunday, November 27, 2005

Creative family stories

The family stories that my writing classes have been working on have turned out to be really interesting. With some students the learning was able to be integrated with the history subject they were taking concurrently, as they were doing family histories. It led to some rich learning opportunities. Because the stories were from the generation of the students’ grandparents or even further back, we had lots of cultures represented: Armenia, Ireland, Afghanistan, China, England, Wales, Holland, and Scotland to name some. In their reflection the students commented that they had learnt so much from their parents and grandparents in finding out about the earlier generations. I am grateful to Wendy, my colleague who developed this activity. The idea of being able to fill in gaps with imaginative reconstruction was so fruitful. I did invite the students to post their stories to their blogs if they felt so inclined and some did, so have a look if you want to here and here. Here is an example from Bry’s blog who posted just an extract from her story:

Here’s just a paragraph from my family story... It’s the second paragraph about my uncle Pete who had a really interesting life and I want him to write a book…

I was born in South Africa in 1948 and spent my childhood in a boarding school from the age of six, therefore I never really knew my sister who was eight years younger. My Father was European but had grown up in South Africa; my mother was English and met my father on one of his trips to the English headquarters of his ever expanding role in the Aacommodation Iindustry. I try not to remember my parents but the only time I really did was when I was four, because at that age I wasn’t too young to understand them, yet not old enough to defy them. I remember one summer day I was playing outside and saw one of the maids throw out a poisoned rat into the garden. Curious I went and picked up the lifeless rat, and being a typical, lonely only child I decided to keep it in my pocket for someone to talk to I found that a poisoned rat was the only thing I could truly relate to. As I was not allowed to play with the black boys at the market and the only interaction between me and children my age was at fancy dinner parties where I was forbidden to make noise. I remember my mother called me inside, she hated me getting dirty or smelling of perspiration from the intolerable heat, annoyed that I couldn’t play I sulked in my room for several hours, I heard my mother in the basement laundry of our over the top and far too big home, I walked to the laundry shoot and let my new little friend rat, that had been fermenting in my pocket, fall to the pile of washing below. The shrieks and fuss made me smile. At a ripe young age of six, I wasn’t sure what hate was, but I was pretty sure it was my feelings for my mother. She knew after that I would be trouble, even as I knew it too.
J. a student from Clarence Fisher’s school recently posted on her ideas of the educational value of blogs. It is very interesting.
Yesterday our teacher wrote this quote on the whiteboard, "Blogging can be dangerous and has little educational value." We had to agree or disagree with this quote. I disagreed and these are my reasons. One reason I disagreed was because I find bloging very educational. I believe that if you write information you have heard or read you are most likely to remember it, just like if you don't know how to spell a word you write it correctly over and over when you get it wrong and this helps you learn how to spell it, or when you study and your trying to remember something you write it down and it helps you to remember it instead of just reading it.
Blogging is like this and kind of like writing notes just you can go back and review the stuff you have written any time and any where as long as u have a computer. Also it is available for everyone else if they don't know something they can just read your blog entries or if they don't know what you are talking about and they want to they can just comment and ask you what it means or what it is. Logs aren’t dangerous as long as you don't write down any personal information about you, your classmates or anyone else. These are all reasons why I disagree with this quote.
There were some comments on this post by some students in my class, which were also interesting for me, as they showed a variety of views.

This week two fellow edubloggers and I are going to be presenting a workshop for teachers on blogging as a reflective space, as a dialogic space for reflection, both for teachers and students. There is much discussion happening in the blogosphere at the moment to do with what students and teachers can say in such a space. I am really looking forward to this, to get to meet with fellow teachers interested in blogging, not to mention being able to meet with James Farmer after only knowing him through cyberspace (although since he’s been on the World Bridges webcasts I feel like I know him in another dimension than just through his web-presence and his web enabling.)
I was also really chuffed to read this post on Graham Wegner's blog about his top five blogs at the moment.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, Jo. I really like these stories. You might find more writing ideas in this great book (not mine!) called Families Writing. I've also been thinking on the topic of the therapeutic (if that's the right word) effects of young people learning more about their own families. I'll post about it soon.