After reading the first several posts on the seemingly popular dy/dan (Mr. Meyer) blog, Why I Don’t Assign Homework, I feel that the bloggers collectively address some very interesting aspects regarding the pros and cons of assigning homework. While each blogger provides relevant and personal insight about the given topic, their approaches and styles vary. Using this specific group of posts as a basis, I will address two of the exploratory reading and writing questions proposed for this Discovery Exercise.
How does blogging affect the way we write? A blogpost may contain incomplete sentences, along with basic grammar errors. A typical paragraph in a blogpost may not contain a topic sentence at all; the sentences within a paragraph may or may not link to a common thought; in other words, the authors of blogposts do not necessarily adhere to the structured rules of English. Some blogposts feature extremely well-written sentences, while others feature a tone of bluntness or borderline arrogance, and – in some cases — even the use of mild expletives as illustrated in Dan Meyer’s post #12 and #14 of the blog entitled Why I Don’t Assign Homework. I feel the latter may represent those bloggers who tend to feel that such an approach is necessary to convey their strong convictions about the topic or idea. In addition, blogging is a powerful way to address a topic from a different perspective and elaborate on the opposing view. This provides the author with a great opportunity for persuasive writing.
How does blogging affect the way we read? Within some of these blogposts, I identified various reading strategies, ie: I depicted the use of relevant examples and/or illustrations of cause-and-effect relationships as a means of clarifying a fact or idea. In general, blogs are conversations and topics which make the authors reflect and justify why they feel a certain way or why they do (or don’t do) a certain thing. With this in mind, as I read through some of the assigned blogposts, I identified with the concept of predictable text and, when that occurred, I tended to skim those sentences/paragraphs rapidly rather than read word-for-word. I feel this is the typical strategy for other viewers as well.
In another blogpost, Mark’s Edtech Blog: Is this SSR 2.0?, Mark made what I feel is a very significant statement about the role and expectations of today’s students and that statement was: “So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it’s real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content — created by their peers.” Ironically, when I read this, I immediately reflected on a statement shared by another KSU EdTech instructor during a recent class I attended. She said: “With today’s technology, the students aren’t just using – they are producing.” This is definitely an exciting time for students (as well as teachers, parents, and administrators) to transform and expand their learning experiences through the use of technology.
I also visited the blog Discourse About Discourse: The Ripe Environment. I immediately noticed the notation that this blog had been nominated by Edublogs Awards 2007 as the Most Influential Post. This blog was created by an individual who feels that teachers, parents, administrators need to establish and maintain an environment wherein the students will actually want to go beyond the tools, into true learning. Such an environment is dubbed The Ripe Environment. The guiding principle is that all the tools at the teacher’s disposal will be used to tear down walls, collaborate with each another, question the traditional role of technology in the classroom, and make sure that they have the right environment so they can explore the resources on their own, through their own creation. The author has established the blog for the purpose of specifying 10 prerequisites for collaboration as a way of creating The Ripe Environment in the classroom, in a school, and in a district. As there are 52 comments, I skimmed over a few of them and found each one I read to be quite interesting. I definitely plan to return to this blog at a later date to review more of the feedback to the proposed criteria.
In this blog, Carolyn Foote shared an interesting comment with the original author (Ben Wilkoff) whereby she made reference to a comment that had been shared by Tim Tyson at the NECC: “providing an environment where the teachers support what the students have to say and give it credence and value”. I wondered if this is the same Tim Tyson who was once the principal at Mabry Middle School here in Cobb County. Does anyone know?
At a subsequent point in the blog, the blog creator, Ben Wilkoff responded to a comment by suggesting that the problem isn’t with what is mandated – it’s with what isn’t mandated. He then went on to say that if each teacher takes an inquiry approach to their content, students will not only know “the stuff,” they will know how to find, evaluate, and create “the stuff.”
I also visited the blog Patrick’s Update: 5th Grade. The creator of this blog, a 5th grader, shared an uplifting and well-written summary of his passion for passing 5th grade, although he was failing in Spelling and Reading, and his brother was taunting him that he wouldn’t pass 5th grade. He states in his blog that he is going to work hard and do his best to prove to himself (and his brother) that he WILL improve in Spelling and Reading, and pass 5th grade. Although all of the subsequent comments to his blog offer words of praise to him for his writing ability, goal-setting skills, and overall determination, one comment response in particular stood out from the rest. The post was from Sam D., a person who experienced a very similar experience from his 8th grade year when he had found himself committed to showing a TEACHER (who had fought against his case) that he could — and would — succeed. Ultimately, he discovered his skill in computer programming, and that teacher even asked for his help. He ended up writing a computer program for a game that even that teacher couldn’t win. He went on to do well in high school, graduated, and went on to college, receiving a degree in aero-dynamic engineering. He later taught middle school, and then became an independent software developer. It was a very inspirational story, and one that the author ended with one of my FAVORITE quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” I found this to be a very inspirational blog for any at-risk student who is struggling with their self-esteem as they strive to identify their strengths and use these strengths to achieve success!!!