Stuart Glogoff of the University of Arizona sent along this link to Alaskablog, a really beautiful and effective class Weblog project that was done this spring. It was done by one of his former students who he had taught using, you guessed it, Weblogs. Very cool!
Alaskablog is created to foster conversations between students, theater arts, and the community.
At Alaskablog 8th grade students at Colony Middle School will engage in conversations with Valley Performing Arts cast and crew to discover the timeless nature of Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men. Throughout our conversations we will be considering the question:
“Does Lenny Small have a place in our twenty-first century?”
In addition, Stuart has some great blogging links at his Learning and Technologies Center. Worth noting is the list of “community building” Weblogs that has some great ideas for using the technology to connect cultures and ideas.
Robin Turk says
Thanks for the kind comment on our Alaskablog project. While I was taking Stuart Glogoff’s class last summer I discovered Weblogg-Ed and knew I had to try blogging with students. At the same time an English teacher and good friend was asked to write a 8-12 grade unit to distribute to district teachers that would bring students together with the local production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I knew instantly that a blog was the perfect forum for this collaboration.
As the year went on I proposed this as an independent study class with Stuart, and Alaskablog is the result. The teacher revamped her whole unit, which transformed to asking and reflecting on the critical questions that arise from thought provoking works like Steinbeck’s. From this there were two truly remarkable outcomes. First, this made total sense to the students. They loved the reading and the discussions. Put that on a computer with a live audience and voila! Second, is the community tie with the local performing arts theatre and parents.
What a difference a blog makes! The question of why do blogs change how we write was discussed in a May posting on Weblogg-ed “Posting vs Blogging.” Here, Will posed the question, “…do Weblogs offer us an opportunity to write in ways that are different from using more traditional technologies? And further, are those differences (if they exist) significant to our teaching, not just of writing but of literacy in a variety of ways?”
We say yes. Alaskablog very much demonstrated the power of a blog to deliver different opportunities for literacy, and made significant differences in our teaching. Opportunities to think, reflect, write and communicate created new experiences and relationships for learning. As I look at the experience again, I think that developing relationships may be the key.
The incredible success on the collaboration with the theatre was in large part due to the support and dedication of the director of the play and the participation of cast members in the blog. The blog broke barriers of time, transportation, age, status… everything. Each participant felt equal from the director to the teacher to the student. As. Emily, friend and teacher, said, “The impact on teaching was felt in the fact that it ultimately changed my role as instructor to participant.” We truly had a community of thinkers exchanging ideas. Here is an example of one time-breaking post from the director titled “Whew!”