As a personal professional development and learning tool, I began this blog during the spring of 2009 as a means of connecting to the web and the world in the most personalized manner possible. After experimenting with Twitter, Delicious, and an English Department blog at work, having my own blog seemed the natural course of things.
Two years ago I brought the TALONS class into the fray. A two-year program for gifted high school learners in our district, our class tackles English, Socials, Science, Math, Leadership and Planning curricula, augmented with experiential service learning projects, cultural events, and outdoor adventures in the local school community, and beyond..
At the best of times, it can be trying (for students, but also the program’s two teachers) to stay on top of the class’ varied passions, interests and Ministry mandated topics. But with blogs, I began to think as our online communication took shape over the summer and ensuing school year, each student (and again, teachers) presented, recorded, and reflected upon their individual learning, in addition to supporting one another in a fluid and ongoing narrative built around the topics of wide-reaching curiosity, as well as the course material.
TALONS teachers have long held as their goal to dissolve the lines between our diverse subjects as often as possible – supporting essay theses with biological arguments, using math analogies during the study of history, and many other as-yet-undiscovered connections – and are continually astounded by the depth and individuality in the class’ blogging.
For two years this blog served a living record, and synthesizer of TALONS student blogging, but has since seen these responsibilities delegated to the class blog, Defying Normality, its Flickr account, Youtube Channel and subject-based wikispaces:
Some of the memorable learning experiences shared on this blog during the 2009 – 2010 school years are:
- Classroom Doors, Open to the World: an English assignment shared via student blog links.
- To Find Your Own Way: Teacher reflection & summary of grade nine Eminent Person Speeches.
- The Interviews Take Flight: Student summaries of success in finding expert testimony for Eminent Person Study.
- It Takes a Village: this brief summary of results from our TALONS-parents interview process is a testament to the benefits of community upon education.
- If a Student Asks a Question in a Classroom… : summary of Katie’s quest for primary source information to construct her Night of the Notables speech that spans the globe in less than 24 hours.
- Eminent Person Wrap Up: Student examples of learning centers, interviews, and speeches abound here with many links.
- Wordle as Discussion Synthesis: As part of a Social Studies discussion of the English Civil War and Canada’s Colonial Society, TALONS students used Wordles to synthesize the range of topics covered in the various discussion threads.
- TALONS Debate the “Good” Books: A class conversation of the ongoing relevance of “The Classics” boiled over into a Facebook thread between many of our grade tens debating the nature of “good” literature.
- A Rash of Ravishing Student Blog Posts: The fruits of a weekend near the end of the TALONS Novel Study, this post links to the majority of the class’ exploits.
- Participants in the Age of Information: A conversation about unfolding events in the Arab Spring of 2011 that became the basis for my essay, ‘Why Sharing Our Stories Matters,” written as part of the Unplug’d Educational Summit publication Why _______ Matters.
- English Final as Documentary Film: “On Education“: Liam’s video about the present state of education becomes fodder for a University of Connecticut course offered to pre-service teachers.
- TALONS’ Showcase of Learning: American Revolution: An example of an open-computer test in the TALONS classroom.
- Jenna lands an Interview with her Eminent Person’s Biographer: TALONS grade ten enjoys a personal conversation about journalism with NYU professor Brooke Kroeger.
- Did the author of the Golden Spruce comment on two TALONS’ posts? He did.
- TALONS Launch new blog, continue Defying Normality: Looking back at the evolution of TALONS blogging in 2010.
The RSS Feed to follow this year’s TALONS Learners’ blogs can be viewed, and subscribed to here, as can the class’ comment feed. Our individual bloggers this year are:
- Jonathan Z.