[Listen to This Blog Text Here] Blogging in the classroom isn't an experiment anymore. It may still be new to many teachers, and we may still have plenty to learn about how to take the most advantage to this new genre, but many of us have been blogging with our students for several years now. We've grown more and more clear about why blogging in a social networking is central to our curricula, and we are more confident in the tools we can use to do this work.
One of the things we say to each other in this podcast is that this work is exciting because it has a history (and a theory) and a future. As schools begin again this fall, over a dozen teachers will be joining together to plan curriculum for two school-based social networks. Last year we started collecting together our plans on a wikispaces site, Elgg Plans. Our high school students' work can be found on an elgg, Youth Voice and on another wikispaces site, Youth Wiki. Our middle school students' blogs are on an elgg, the Personal Learning Space, that is a "walled garden."
Can you imagine blogging with your students? Want to join us? We would welcome you, especially now! Please respond to this post. Let us know of your interest, and we'll help you get started. Also, take a look at these Guidelines for Joining YouthVoices.net.
We'll show you how we use James Beane's "10 self and 10 world questions" to build curriculum with out students. (See this Trailfire for more information.) We plan to also mix in a healthy dose of Paulo Freire's "generative words" and "generative themes." (See a description of "generative themes that discusses images in a book, Brave New Schools. And find "generative" in the third chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed.) There's also some business about Peter Elbow's notions of freewriting and focused sentences, and so much more!
At the end of this podcast, Lee Baber shows how blogging has changed her way of teaching:
"I'm looking forward to this year. I feel like I understand now that in teaching my technology class, I need to start with this blog, and in joining with the other teachers in this space first, and fit my curriculum in around it. Because this is probably the most important skill that they're ever going to leave my computer technology class with, which is how to work the same kind of thing that we do in our community. So I'm really excited about re-working my whole year, and laying this thing out to be more participatory and to be more on time with the lessons with everybody else.... This is going to be a new way of seeing how to teach this curriculum. Again, just first teach them how to put it into practice and build community and how to write in their blog spaces and join with these other students. Second, all these other standards will fit in to that. That is why we teach them. It's life skills. It makes perfect sense. It's just just not the way anyone teaches it now."
Why would we make these kinds of changes, and invite you to do the same? In this podcast, Gail Desler answers:
"It's nice that [this blogging] project has a history. It has a past. It has a future, and it just keeps building. And it really is about engaging kids, and using tools that have something to do with how they actually learn today."
Please listen to this podcast, and consider joining us. Give your students a voice this year! Please express your interest or ask questions in the comments attached to this post.