So I was walking around the Kid Tech room yesterday after we had set up our little blogvangelism table and lo and behold what do I see? Another blogging in the classroom display! This one by a group of elementary school kids in Oxford, NJ who have been reading books and having online conversations about them with kids in other classrooms and the authors. How cool is that? Turns out that their teacher attended a mini blog workshop I gave there last summer, and she just ran with the idea. The best part was that she had about half a dozen bloggers working the crowd including one girl who they had designated as “Blogger of the Year” because of all the messages she had posted. And you could tell she was really proud of the title. She gave me a demo of their project, and then she came over for a demo from my students. (She’s in the Jenna picture below.) It was a great moment to see 18-year-olds and 10-year olds swapping stories about blogs.
On the whole, I wasn’t too surprised that most of the educators, reporters, etc. who came up to our booth didn’t know much about Weblogs. Meredith and Jenna did some serious blogvangelism that was fun to watch. We had a chance to chat quite a bit about their experience in school and the state of the blogging world with kids. The bad news is that a majority of our kids seem to have a Myspaces.com or Xanga site. The good news is that none of them refer to this as blogging. Yay! The other good news is that from what Meredith and Jenna can tell, most people are being pretty safe in the way they use the sites, though I’m sure a good number of them aren’t. The only “real” blogger they could cite was a girl from our Journalism 2 class who does some serious political deconstruction on her Xanga site.
I guess the most striking nugget of info I gleaned was when I asked them how much of their high school experience had really challenged them. Now these are pretty smart kids, going to NYU and U. of Iowa next year. Still, when they both said only about 10% of the curriculum had really forced them to think, I was a bit taken aback. Between them they had taken 6 AP courses and a slew of honors classes, but they both said the content wasn’t very engaging, that they did their homework five minutes before class, and for the most part they felt pretty bored. Oy.
Anyway, is was great to spend a day with kids again. Made me remember why I got into teaching in the first place, but it also made me think more about the long road we have to hoe to make the system more effective and relevant for them.