Classroom Doors, Open to the World

In keeping an ongoing record of our class’ experiment in becoming globally connected and networking learners (teachers most humbly included), I will be occasionally sharing examples of student blogs along the lines of various assignments as a means of both celebrating and sharing exemplars of student blogs and writing, as well as inviting the reaches of my own personal learning network into the students’ opinions, writing, and learning.

To that end, our study of Alistair MacLeod’s “To Everything There is a Season”  has made its way to the discussion of students’ theme statements for the story, which I asked them to impart, express or defend in the form of a blog post that would become – in my words – an informal essay. Tell me what you think the theme is, and why.

My intention in describing the writing this way may seem to hasten and encourage the informal chatspeak of MSN, text-messages, and email (with its uncapitalized i’s, non-existent commas, and rampantly incongruous uses of semi-colons). But as our students come from several middle schools around the district and everyone has had a different experience with essays, arguments, and the criticism of literature, I wanted to see what would arise without laying out the forms and norms of formal writing (which I think can tend to intimidate and stifle the natural creativity and confidence necessary to write about literature).

Well, here is what happened (if you haven’t read the story, spoilers will abound below):

  • Reflect upon the past, look forward to the future and remain in the present – Donya (grade nine) has concocted an original organizational structure to lay out her supporting evidence according to the various time frames addressed by the story’s characters.
  • “Every man moves on, but there is no need to grieve. He leaves good things behind.” I love how Jenna has cribbed the last lines of the story to be included in her own closing argument for the story’s theme.
  • Believe in that tiny light ahead, it might just wait for you. Louise creates a very thorough and engaging argument for theme built out of her own experiences and relationship with the character of Santa Claus.
  • At the beginning of the story, our protagonist is trying to figure out whether or not he believes in Santa Claus. Andrew does a great job at retaining some of the formal conventions in writing about literature, and manages to make a personal argument without the use of (too many) unnecessary personal pronouns.
  • What is comforting is not always true. Liam makes an eloquent personal appeal for his theme that addresses human nature and our natural affinity for order, stories, and their salvation.

But these are merely the highlights of the posts I was able to digest before the assignment’s due date. Out of fewer than ten early submissions, there were at least eight examples worth sharing with the class, our school, and now the world. To tune into our conversation, follow our shared Google Reader feed here, as well as our comment feed here. The rest of our class blogging information (links to each student blog, our comment and blog RSS, as well as Twitter hashtags and Delicious bookmarks) is supplied for you here.

Don’t be a stranger! Stay tuned for highlights from next week’s creative pieces, and a term, semester and year of outstanding student expression. I am looking forward to it!

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