And the children shall lead them?

Slide1How often do students not want an assignment to end? 

In the blogosphere, we often talk about the transformative power of assignments that ignite student passions and connect them to a global audience, and the importance a tool like blogging can play in that. 

In this case, Christian Long’s Alice Project  wasn’t just about blogging but allowing students to discover, write about, and share their ideas and understanding with one another.  What tremendous power in giving students the reins to discover their own understanding.   But who can describe the power of it better than students who have experienced that personally? 

In her post, “Time to Wake Up,”  Melissa, a student in Christian Long’s Alice Project reflects on the end of their blogging assignment, and the poignancy of her feelings about it are palpable:

“What’s going to happen days from now when we don’t spend all our time thinking of new ideas for blogs, or disagreeing/agreeing with people on their blogs?

It’s time to get back to the same 10th grade English class like the beginning of the year. Hey I didn’t say anything was wrong with it, it’s just going to take awhile to get back in the way of things. . . “

What a transformation blogging has made for this class.   So much so that a student who has been in a traditional classroom for 10 years is struggling to adjust back to a regular class structure.

She continues,

“Blogging has now become one of my favorite things to do. I love that I can express my feelings on the internet rather than in person because I feel a lot more comfortable and confident. I usually don’t like speaking out in class just in a case I say something wrong and look not so smart. Other classmates and people all over the world can read my blog entries and have their opinions over my thoughts and then I can read how they feel about what I’ve written and if I didn’t see it from their point of view.”

When people ask, why have students blog?  Or how does the technology make a difference? –I think Melissa has given an effective answer to these questions.

Carl K. at Not Your Average Wonderland   shares this insight:

“I see this new way of teaching becoming more universal in the near future. I’m glad I could be one of the first to be a part of it.” 

That sort of observation astounds me.  This student clearly felt he was at the beginning of something really different in terms of his education.  Again, how do you go back to the regular “sit and get” routine after an experience as rich as this?

Lastly, Brendon eloquently summarizes the mind-changing part of this classroom experience in his post at Welcome to Wonderland  aptly entitled “This is Only the Beginning:”

“We found out what happens on the ‘twelfth day’ of school. We start teaching the teacher. We became independent minds with our own voice.”

Isn’t it time we help all our students start the “twelfth day” of school and find their independent voices?

On Will Richardson’s recent blog post, I Don’t Need Your Network (or Your Computer, or Your Tech Plan, or Your…) there was a great deal of  debate about the changes technology is bringing to our classrooms, and the particulars of how that might happen. 

But Will was asking a more fundamental question–

“And finally, the big kahuna, are we in the process of transforming (not just revising) our curriculum to work in a world that looks like this[this being a photo of a classroom of students all on laptops].  

As I said in a previous post (“What’s Are We Really Fighting For,” ) and as I know Will believes, it’s not all about the technology. It is about our students learning to communicate honestly, beautifully and expressively.

That world Will shows us is already here, not down some rabbit hole, but here in classrooms like Christian’s.  So I echo, are we in the process of transforming our curriculum to work in this world?    If not, how long are we going to debate about it?

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