Friday, July 20, 2012

In response to John and Steve

This morning I've been Skyping with Steve about this blog post that he wrote into response to John's post.  Steve and I started pounding away on the keys, still wondering with John about the sustainability of student blogs.

Steve and I were wondering together about how many of the SI-er's will continue blogging after today, after the push to inquire in those spaces as a part of a course is over.  And I'm wondering about my own blogging over the past two weeks.  I have really enjoyed "having" to blog.  I say "having to" because it wasn't fair to ask the teachers participating in SI to do it if we weren't going to do it ourselves.

We are wondering together if part of the motivation to blog in classroom spaces is the immediacy of response.  It's part of the grade and we offer that space in class, so response definitely happens. I'll admit too, that I do really like the way blogger shows me how many views a post has gotten.  So maybe it's not even the responses that drive my motivation to blog, but just knowing someone is listening?

I'm going to be using blogs for the first time this fall in my first year writing course and I'm thinking at the moment that I'm going to model that very much after the way we've used them in SI as place to think through inquiry projects with the rest of us.  They will also have daybooks of course, so I'm thinking of the blog as one step away from personal, for the self writing.  I'm thinking of them as places to put the messy pondering of inquiry out into the world to find others to inquire with us.  That's not "polished" publication though.  I've dealt with that here by using a "messy, drafty thinking" label.

Like Steve, I'm trying to think of a way to connect our thinking up with the conversations we are inquiring into. So, I'm imagining a "polished for now" (because you can't really "finish" a piece of inquiry writing in a semester) or two.  I'm imagining that these pieces will get tweeted into conversation with others outside of our classroom.

And I'm really, really interested in the co-op blogs that John mentioned in his response to Steve.  I'm imagining these as multi-author blogs and thinking that may be just the thing to take some pressure off of some writers and create small communities within the large class community.  I'd like to hear a lot more about that.


  1. First, before I respond to any of your ideas, I just need to say that doing a blog as a response to a response to a blog is an awesome idea. Similar to what happens in the scholarly community, but on a less formal scale. And it's especially cool to see you, Dr. U (an accomplished scholarly folk), initiate this step.
    I'm pretty anxious to see how blogging with your classes takes shape. I like the model that we had going in SI, with the daily low-pressure, inquiry directed, messyness accepted blogging. I also liked how the time we took to read and respond to each other connected each of us to what others were doing. It may have been even cooler if we could then move to writing posts from, or in response to others blogs in our own blogs (like what we have been doing here). But then that brings me back to this idea of forcing blogging to happen rather than letting it happen organically, in authentic response to an idea situated in a particular time and place. This is meaningful because it wasn't grew out of conversation. And that brings me back to how to best set up blogging in a classroom. Open-endedness and time for response are key ingreedients, but other than that, I'm not sure...maybe uncertainty is best.
    On another strand, I'm still thinking about blogging co-ops. I'm envisioning it as taking the form of finding some students who are the most into writing and blogging, and holding regular writing/blogging meetings with them throughout the summer. I think that would totally engage a handful, but I'm also sure that it would draw a crowd who, wile likely being too cool to attend the co-op meetings, would be listening and writing into from the perifery, knowing that conversations would be happening. I know I could get at least 10 students to make the commitment over the summer, and so Cindy, with your thinking on blogging combined with John's comments on blogging co ops, I'm now finding myself wondering about what next steps I should take as next year comes to an end.And also, I'm wondering where the Writing Project could fit into all of this...

  2. I keep thinking about these co-ops too. I'm digging your summer idea for sustainability purposes. It's sort of like what we do with our UNCCWP web site - asking guest bloggers to write about what's going on.

    I'm also thinking it would be a cool way for student groups to work on a shared inquiry of some sort.

  3. Cindy,
    I have beem thinking about blogging in my classroom a lot this summer, especially after camps. I pretty much just let my kids have at it this year. Many startedoutsuper excited, but that died off. I have a few who have posted this summer, but that's it. And I'm not sure it realy accomplished anything.

    I was interested in the part you posted about SIers continuing to blog. For me, my blogging stopped shortly after SI. It seems like those who have continued to post, use Twitter, were the ones who were doing it before SI.

    I have been thinking about that a lot this summer as well, as I have been trying to write more myself. I actually enjoyed blogging- I was with a group of peoplee I could trusr (no hate comments!). I needed to have some writing done. It was very low pressure and enjoyable, and I knew people were going to read it.

    After SI, I got scared. During SI, I had help generating ideas. After SI, I felt like I lost a huge part of that. I am also a pretty private person, and soome of the things I could think to write of, I wouldn't want on the internet. As school got closer, I mad emy blog private. I definitely didn't want want a parent to find it! So what was th epoin tin using it? People weren't reading it, I wasn't getting any feedback on my wasn't much different than writing jn my writer's notebook then putting it away again.

    As I said, I actually did enjoy using it. I enjoyed writing for those two weeks :) and am trying to figure out how to make it happen again. I want to see if I can get my kids to use their blogs likeI did during SI. I want to use writing circles again this year and incorporate blogging with that. I'm hoping that goingin with a purpose this year, I can hook more kids.

    A lot to think through!

  4. Also, I typed this on my nook, so sorry for the typos! :(

  5. Tara, Your voice is so important to me in this conversation. First, I want to tell you that I have a semi-private blog that I keep about life stuff. It functions to keep my extended family informed on what we are up to AND it's sort of a family scrapbook that I hope my children will enjoy parsing through some day. This blog is my "public" blog. You can see that I started it last year during your SI when ya'll were blogging and then it stayed pretty quiet until this year's SI. I LOVED using it as a space to wonder with the folks in SI - and now that your voice is in here - outside of SI. It feels like a place to be a reflective practitioner, like the writing I do in my daybook, but the questions and wondering that I want others to be in conversation with.

    I'd love for us all to develop a culture of blogging in our Writing Project Site. We can post the url's on connect. We can put each other in our google readers . . .

    In thinking about your fourth graders - I'm thinking that it could function in much the same way. They could use it as one step away from the daybook - stuff they are ready for some feedback on maybe? And also as a place to "publish." And as we keep saying here, I can totally see it working as a space for inquiry projects. Love thinking about this stuff with your all!