Monday, November 30, 2009

Missing, Celebrating, and Wondering

Thinking about blogging –

Seriously and thus this subsequent post--

Prompted by a gnawing emptiness— missing opportunities to have windows on the classrooms of two accomplished teachers and their students through their blogs.

Finding real value in returning here to think “out loud”— to create some record of my continued journey into learning— continuing attempts at articulating a lifelong passion for learning and education--

As Anne Davis and Darren Kuropatwa found new directions in their lives, I celebrated with them; and selfishly regretted the loss of the opportunity to connect and develop relationships with their students. And just as great the loss of their transparency in their practice surrounding blogging which was and continues to be a beacon -shining on the potential for making student thinking transparent, for building communities of learners and bloggers, for enabling student ownership of learning, for extending learning through audience participation , for collaborating and reflecting, and for promoting learning in which mistakes become avenues for continued learning.

On Darren’s class blogs, student authors composed daily scribe posts and expert voices projects which not only made their understanding of the concepts of the day transparent but also helped deepen their learning as they taught others through their blogging. Classmates helped with understanding by noting and suggesting in the comments. Excellence was expected; mistakes were viewed as a part of learning. I shall forever be eternally grateful to Darren for accepting me as a mentor for a number of years, trusting me to comment to his students. His transparency in describing his ever evolving and ever more accomplished practice was a source of great joy and learning for me.

As well, the years that I had the enormous privilege to be a commenter for Anne’s 5th graders and learn from Anne and her students profoundly touched me. I learned so much more about joy in learning --particularly blogging, and reflecting. Anne’s process of developing an understanding of blogging for her students seems to me to be exemplary as they examine and explore the concept of blogging framed by the traits of writing plus linking and gradually move from commenting on other blogs to designing and writing their very own posts. Anne always recognized the importance of audience for student voices and consequently Harley and I were delighted to become 2 of many who were contacted in advance and invited to become a part of the group of commenters. Posts were never reviewed by her prior to publishing; commenters often provided pointers for improvement. Anne often asked them to “bump” their writing later in the year by going back to a post and revising and she developed a process for proof revising with podcasting which was very effective. Her kids truly enjoyed collaborating and connecting with Darren’s high school and Clarence’s middle school students. I’m really looking forward to the chapter publication of her work on building a community of bloggers that describes the complexities and nuances of blogging with young people.

Involved as a mentor with Darren’s students and as a commenter with Anne’s, I had the sense that something pretty special was occurring. Now, upon lots of reflection and collecting all these resources (and I’m missing many) I’m wondering if they don’t they point to pedagogies that epitomize the potential of and the reasons for blogging? What keeps us from offering such incredible opportunities for joyous, authentic, collaborative, student owned learning for all our students? Don’t all our children deserve these kinds of opportunities?


dkuropatwa said...

Lani, you humble me.

I've been missing my students and the hustle and bustle of the classroom; the push back from my students as we experiment with "what's next?"; and the joy that comes of teaching and seeing learning.

I'm away from home tonight in a neighbouring town. I'll be talking to four classes of student teachers tomorrow and I'm wondering what stories would best convey, in the short time we have, so many of the things I want to tell them. I think I'll tell them all about you and the echoes you've linked to here.

Again, and always, thanks. ;-)

Anne Davis said...

Lani, I too am overwhelmed. Thank you for your kind words. Darren and I were the fortunate ones to have you connecting with our classrooms. Possibilities did abound and oh, what an incredible difference you and Harley made in the lives of both teacher and students.

I do miss working with the students and I miss blogging about the journey. As I move in new directions since my retirement, I find myself reflecting about many things. I'm still working on additional articles from the research on classroom blogging. It's amazing to me how much material there is to ponder, study, and work through from the year of classroom blogging. You are right on target when you say they point to pedagogies that epitomize the potential of and the reasons for blogging. I wish every child could experience that kind of ownership of their own learning. Thanks again for caring and being such an advocate for students worldwide. You're the best!