A Rash of Ravishing Student Blog Posts

Whistler Wonderland
Saturday March 6th

The class’ blog feed swelled this weekend with a range of posts (and comments) on everything from our city buses, to the recent Olympics, to novel study reflections and in-depth updates. At a concert Friday night and skiing Saturday, it wasn’t until Sunday (after a late breakfast over which a friend and I (correctly) picked all five ‘major’ Oscar winners without having seen any of the films in contention) that I made my way into Google Reader with any purpose to begin reading the burgeoning exploits of the class’ writing.

As the briefest of introductions, the TALONS have been blogging a lot lately: their novel study assignments include six different blog posts; an ongoing in-depth project requires blogged updates every two weeks; and of late many of our grade ten students have joined in the globally interactive Student Blogging Challenge. This all atop the mountain of posts being compiled outside the requirements of the classacademic concerns, not to mention the wide range of comments from acquaintances near and far.

In addition to the many links above, here are some highlights of the weekend’s work:

Saskia on growing up by the sea, and the parallel world in Snow Falling on Cedars:

I grew up with the sea, tasted its salty breezes and threw rocks into its seeweedy depths. A small dirt path concealed to all but those who knew of it led from the bottom of my cul-de-sac to a rocky outcropping where the tide washed in. Here, in the placid waters of my early childhood, I combed the beach for sea glass and pottery chips, swam to barnacled and grassy islets, and let the summer sun crust the salt to my legs. The Islanders on San Pedro too lived by the sea. But their’s was a wild one. The sea washed through the pages of Snow Falling on Cedars. It soaked the story in storms and mystery and defined the rhythm of the islanders’ lives. San Piedro was an island of “damp souls” with a “rainy, wind-beaten sea village, downtrodden and mildewed.” The sea wind gusted through the town, “making its single traffic light flail from side to side” or causing “the town’s electrical power to flicker and stay out for days.” Yet the beaches glistened with “smooth stones and sea foam” and somehow it managed to retain a “brand of verdant beauty.”

Donya looks at the difference between her definition of “Friend” vs. Facebooks‘:

Your definition of a friend: “Oh sure I’ll talk to you behind a screen but I really dont have the social skills to come up and talk to you in person” or, “Hey! I saw the back of your head as you were leaving school one day! I should probably add you!” My definition of a friend: “Hey Donya! So we’re still meeting up for the movies on Friday right? I cant wait to spend some time with you!” and ” Oh hi Donya. I heard you were sick, so I picked up some candy on the way home for you :) Candy can fix anything!”

Kiko ponders solitude with Holden Caufield:

The traffic through the park slowed down, until I felt like I was the only one around, outside of the occasional car that drove through the calm in my head. I went through every song I’d memorized, and I looked around, watching the sun as it fell behind the bare branches of a tree off in the distance, the darkening sky, and the unchanging and, at the time, empty park. Nonetheless, I continued playing, and though only myself and the air around me received my music, the aloneness of the moment made me feel…quite content.

Justin dissects the meaning of Mockingbirds (and Finches) in Harper Lee’s classic novel:

Mockingbirds have also been referred to in the real world by Charles Darwin as a prime example proving his theory of evolution. This is also why Atticus, Jem, Scout, Boo and all the other mockingbirds in this story are starting the “evolution” of Maycomb society to become more peaceful and tolerant. Before the Finches, one would assume that the town of Maycomb were unanimous in their dislike of Black people and religious beliefs. In comes Atticus and his children, and suddenly there is a different opinion forming in the town. People like the Finches are still a minority in this book, but it starts the evolutionary chain for Maycomb, from where they were then in the 30’s to modern day 2010. Though the story of Maycomb County ended in 1935-ish, our society today could still benefit from more evolution in terms of racial tolerance and equality.

Katie reflects on the contribution public transit has made to our class’ blogging (and links to many of her classmates’ posts inspired by bus and train travel):

One day back in November, I barely missed my bus, and as a result I spent a solid 20 minutes alone, just watching the rumbling clouds go by. I remember that moment for some reason, I remember thinking about transit and how intricate the system was. I thought about the peace that the bus brought me (usually anyways…). I got home and proceeded to write the first of many non-mandatory blog posts. So, in a way, the bus got me started writing. Whether it’s stillness or talking that I find when I bus that day, it results in the same thing: thinking. Often, after that comes writing.

Jordan relates a less-than-normal trip home from work on Friday night:

At this point, my mother comes running up to the car window and I throw her the phone.  I sit in the car and watch as my mother stands between the girl and the road, talking to the 911 dispatcher.  I realize that this girl is not hurt seriously.  She sits up onto the curb and continues to wail and laugh and cry, all at the same time.  My mom tries to help her up but all the girl wants to do is flail her arms and yell profanities.  My mom puts the cellphone away, and stand protectively over the girl, to make sure she doesn’t try to run on to the road again.  The downed girl’s friend is standing off to the left side, talking about how she doesn’t want the police to come.

Ariana on Holden Caufield and the smokers by the bus stop:

They slouch behind the back gate of my high school with sagging pants and sagging faces. I see them as I leave for the bus stop, right hands holding cigarettes, left hands draped in their pockets. I don’t stop to wonder what they’re thinking: the divide between us is palpable and, following a strict, unspoken code, we avoid eye contact. I broke the rules once. As I stood under the bright winter sun waiting for the 97 B-Line, a stream of smoke floated to settle above my friends and me.  The smell was the same one engrained into my memory of my grandmother and into the tablecloths we inherited from her after she died of lung cancer. I turned towards the boy and his cigarette. “Will you please stop smoking upwind of us? Do you know that what we’re breathing in has twice the amount of nicotine as what you are?

Louise contemplates the terrible beauty that gives life its meaning:

All these things will be gone, maybe in a few minutes, a day, a month, a year, decades, or hundreds or thousands of years. The sun will sink into night, the eagle will die, the shell will crumble into sand, the diamonds will fade, the glacier lakes will dry, my friends will pass on, and the hurricane will disperse. They will be gone. Perhaps others will take their places, but it won’t be ever the same again. However, I’ve seen the burnt and cracked trunk  of a lightning-struck cedar covered with heavy moss and Dead man’s beard. I’ve seen the the skeletal, bleached-white trees that will never flower or bud again. I’ve seen the crushed feathery wings of a baby robin in the middle of a parking lot with its body gone. I’ve seen the bloody salmon struggle up the rapids, torn and dying. Perhaps not everyone would find all these scenes attractive, I see a terrible beauty in them. The struggle that these living things were once subject to breaks my heart a little. The vulnerability and emptiness of these things, gone and broken down by time and accident radiate coldness and bleakness.

The RSS Feed for the rest of the class’ blogging can be found here. We also have syndicated our comment feed, which can be followed here. Students’ Clustermaps are filling with dots from all over the world, and our comment feed is increasingly bearing the stamp of a globally connected classroom, a trait many in class would like to expand upon.

To those who have not yet, don’t be shy: Join the conversation! Comment, link to us, and enrich the TALONS learning! And to those who have: thank you for supporting, listening and teaching 30 young learners (that total includes my teaching partner and I), who are indebted to you!