Social Media as Connective Tissue – Presentation for BCSSTA

British Columbian Student Bloggers without Borders

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That time of year again

In response to Chris Kennedy‘s recent post of British Columbian edu-bloggers, and in the spirit of referring my fellow bloggers (and blog-readers) to the people that I read, I thought of putting together a short list of a few noteworthy local student-bloggers. I hope that their blogs can further become hubs of communication around their evolving educations, and that their voices might be lent to the rest of ours in a larger conversation about the future of education.

At the risk of highlighting the myriad astonishing aspects of the entire TALONS class set of blogs, I highlight these three student blogs as diverse examples of young learners continually creating the blogging medium in their own image. Arranged from oldest-to-youngest.

Live Life to Create

Olga is a TALONS alumnus – that ‘found’ blogging independently, after graduating from the program – who continues to document the life and trials of being a high school senior in the digital age as a prolific Twitterer, and frequent blogger on her Tumblr site (when they’re not down). As a peer tutor this year with the current morning class of TALONS, Olga has shared her insights on the nature of learning, meeting her heroes, and life at the doorstep of graduation, university, and the Future.

Frozen Tic Tacs

This is a group blog that began as a conversation following a Skype conference with some of Alec Couros’ student-teachers, and has followed eight Talons graduates into grade eleven and life beyond our gifted program in the months since. Originally conceived as a means of staying in touch while the girls travelled to Kenya, Quebec, and a number of points in between over summer vacation, the Tic Tacs have continued to share their hopes, fears, and works of art for the past many months.

Channels of Thought

Though I said I wouldn’t go to the lengths of presenting all of the TALONS blogging exploits, the burgeoning riot of freckles adorning Liam’s Clustermap speak to an inherent magnetism in writers who are discovering their voice, and seem capable of consistently delivering unique, and articulate ideas. Though his posts are often inspired by school assignments, the breadth of Liam’s historical knowledge, and ravenous appetite for news and political developments often combine with an effortless faculty of language to produce masterworks of student-blogging.

As I said, these are but three examples of young bloggers I have had the good fortune to meet and work with, and who challenge me to be a more prolific, progressive, and productive blogger with each new post. I’ve seen posts recently by Dean Shareski and Will Richardson asking about student bloggers pro-actively creating their own online brand, above and beyond what their class and student-blogs might ask of them, and heard Andrew B. Watt ask much this same question sometime last spring.

But I haven’t been referred to too many sources of student-blogging leadership (outside the international Student Blogging Challenge, and Comments4Kids program, which both tend toward the elementary, or middle school grades), and would appreciate (as would the Talons class, I assume) any leads and links you might be able to leave as a comment to this post.

Who are your most compelling student bloggers?

The TALONS meet the Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce won the Governor General's Award for English Language non-fiction in 2005.

“… a creature that seemed more at home in a myth or fairy tale: a spruce tree with golden needles.”

The TALONS classes have been beginning their study of English, Socials and Science with the Governor General Award Winning Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant, and begun their blogging year with a host of introductory blog posts – in poems, painting, prose and no shortage of personality – covering the first four chapters of a book that is about more than trees:
It is not simply a tale of a tree. It is the tale of a people, of the changes made to a land ‘west of west’ , the mixing of two very distinct cultures.  The tale of  a region, one of the most rugged and natural left in the world. Haida Gwaii exists not far from places such as Danger Island and Danger Passage, and the names were not given idly.  It is a place hard to understand for those who do not live there, and I certainly don’t.  It is the type of place you need to experience to fully understand.

Liam

I glower upwards through the murky water as the hull of a human boat passes over my head. Foolish humans, I think as I lay in the depths of a rocky and jagged bank, with my hands behind my back. So greedy,so malicious. These new comers with their intrusive floating crafts, how I despise them all.

Donya

Megan's Hecate Visions

Megan

As the days go by

do they sit and cry?

the loggers who cut

down the ancients?

Kelsey

We had begun our journey like any other ship and her crew; a group of courageous young men and a ship better than any other. We were going to conquer this wild land and use to its fullest extent. Little did we know, we were in for no easy adventure. We left our hometown over half a year ago. It was after braving Cape Horn and sailing northward for thirteen thousand kilometres when the nightmare truly began. At first, we were simply surrounded by a thick, opaque layer of fog. Then, we had to face heartless winds, uncaring currents, and frighteningly random whirlpools. My socks were the first of my belongings to be terrorized by this inhospitable environment. Then it was our ropes. And finally, our stomachs.

Iris

Donyas Wildest of the Wild

Donya's Wildest of the Wild

Every so often, an oddity is sent upon us. A twist to a seemingly identical fill of trees. John Vaillant reveals a truth to difference; that noticeable is none, unless it posses a difference which appeals to a set of human eyes. The “golden” spruce was extremely noticeable due to its colour. Other natural monuments may be noticeable due to identifying features. But as they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. In my opinion, beauty alone did not declare the golden spruce’s popularity.

Jonathan

They are gone now, the ancient chants that I used to hear, the heavy drum beats that would fill the night air with a pulse that could send shivers down your spine. It has come, and now it has gone. The houses they once occupied, bustling with life like an ant hill, have collapsed in on themselves. Now only moldering piles of wood that are giving in to the forests demands.

Megan

So now humanity (or rather, B.C.’s government) is faced with the decision of what to do with this natural resource. Do we chop it all down? (probably a bad idea) Do we leave it alone and make the mere thought of chopping down a tree a crime? (also, probably a bad idea) Personally, I think that there’s no simple answer to this question. Logging creates hundreds of jobs, and it’s one of B.C.’s primary ways of making money. However, we can’t just go off chopping down whatever we like. As you have no doubt heard before, trees are rather important to the environment, which, in turn, is rather important to us.

Nick

Cultural Geography Public Service Announcements

No sign of Boo BooAs a means to delve creatively into the cultural geography in Western Canada, our socials ten students will be undertaking the creation of public service announcements on issues relating to the present states of plants and animals across several different biomes. Having practiced digital storytelling skills in writing, performing and editing a brief time-line of human history in the local area last week, their sights will be set on documenting the evolving history of human interaction with, and use of, resource species such as the Rocky Mountains’ bears, the Plains’ buffalo, and the Pacific Coast’s salmon.

They were not a nation, nor even a tribe, but a loose association of groups consisting of up to a dozen families. All were, however, united in their allegiance to Tuktu – the caribou – which, in their millions, not only furnished the necessities of life but most of whatever else these people needed. Caribou skins provided clothing (the warmest and lightest known), footwear, tents, sleeping robes, covering for kayaks, even the heads of drums. Tuktu gave meat, and fat both to eat and to fill their lamps; sinews for sewing; and antler and bone for the manufacture of innumerable hunting and domestic implements, even including children’s toys. Tuktu was life itself to human dwellers in the Barren Lands.

Farley Mowat Walking on the Land

Unesco.

Each of the animals and biomes selected by the groups this week bear a similar tradition of use that reaches back to the dawn of humankind, and I look forward to seeing the class’ representations of these ecosystems as they once were, on through their current state. Even in our suburban setting, there is still a reverence for the outdoors in many of the class’ undertakings – whether natural or urban – and the energy in class today as the groups selected their biomes and animals and set out on research stemmed from a connection many members of the class feel with their local setting. In documenting the traditions of our ancestors on this land alongside modern Canadians’ stewardship of the country’s most valuable resources, the project’s lofty purpose will be to offer a message to those who will follow in our footsteps here.

“We are all five-fingered people, the holy people. My grandfather and uncles always said that when we are taught these things, they are for the people, the children, and whoever comes to you wanting your help and the medicine of our ancestors. It is our responsibility to help them.”

Brian Payton Shadow of the Bear

Hopefully we do better than Dwight.