Saturday, May 06, 2006

Adventures in classroom blogging

Some interesting things have been happening. In two weeks one week two colleagues and I will be doing a blogging workshop at the VATE State conference. Yesterday we met for a planning meeting and we decided to set up a wiki for our resources that you can see (just the bare bones as yet) here. In our discussion we talked about what blogging has meant to us, what kinds of writing we each do on our blogs and why people blog. I told a funny story from classroom which I will repeat here. My year 8 class had the experience of doing some research and then blogging about it. Various students set themselves various questions that they wanted to find out more about. At the time the class was deep in a discussion of global issues and the term "third world " had been mentioned (probably by me). The students wanted a definition and we discussed a couple of different definitions. One student, Fran, commented that people in "third world countries" seem to have less control over their lives than people in "first world countries", and then a student whose parents had taken her to India to visit relatives mentioned what she had seen and the discussion turned to the caste system in India. Various people contributed what they had seen on their travels, or heard about on TV. And that's how Bree came to choose this topic to research and write about it on her blog. Her blog post raised some interest in Clarence Fisher's classroom in Snow Lake. He has written about their discussion here.
"A ... group of kids were discussing a recent post they had read by a student in Australia that was trying to explain the caste system in India and how many lower caste Indians have an incredibly difficult time gaining a good job. The kids were amazed by what they felt was the brazen racism of this student, writing about "Indians." In Canada, our first peoples used to be called "Indians" (thank you Columbus) as they are in the United States; but in our current society, these people prefer to be called "natives" or "first nations." Many of my students thought this blogger was discussing the plight of Canada's native peoples and felt this blogger was being insensitive. I had to step in and remind them of where Australia sits on the globe and that this blogger was not talking about people in Canada, but about "Indians. People from India." Many light bulbs lit up around the room and they were shot into an entirely new perspective of understanding as they realized that their world view was not the same as others. It was a powerful moment of global realization."
I showed this to Bree and she was amazed at the effect of her writing. Later she was one of three students who were interviewed by a journalist for SPress for a student's perpective on blogging. The journalist asked her what skills she thought she had learnt from blogging. The communication that my students in suburban Melbourne are having with people across the country and across the globe was something that all three students spoke about. But I had to smile when Bree said that she was now more conscious of her spelling as part of that communication. And I hadn't even prompted her.

4 comments:

  1. A true moment of looking at what blogging is all about.

    Its not about the individual post. Its about the conversation that develops.

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  2. What a lovely example of how small out world has become -- and how we can have influence across such a distance.

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  3. What a great story! I'll look out for the S-press article, show it to my year 11s.

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  4. Liz(Lifelong friend)8:08 pm

    Hi Jo, What a wonderful contribution to education, a global classroom. Continue your excellent work, I'm proud of you.
    Congratulations!
    Best wishes and Shalom Liz (a life long friend)

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