A World Bursting with Whispers

Countries and number of participants in the ChallengeImagem: Student Blogging Challenge Translation Authorized by Kathleen Morris

     While comments keep blowing through the challenge, spreading its seeds of friendship, I’ve been picking some exquisite flowers in Mrs. Bader’s Garden. 

    “It was nice to learn about people… I liked to see how creative people had been” –   Eliza

     We can learn from others; from anyone; from another kid of our age: their creativity is contagious and enjoyable.

“…this was a new person. I have never met this person before, so it was a new experience to have.” – Ashlyn

     Someone totally unknown to you enters in your own life; from now on, a new relationship may be born and develop; an invisible string has been knotted, in the world, that strengthens the union of all.

 “I could choose whoever I wanted instead of being assigned to someone I already knew.” – Ashlyn

     The possibility of choice is attractive in itself; it reminds us that relationships can only grow in a context of freedom and good will. Participating in the Challenge can never be reduced to an academic task: its purpose goes beyond technical expertise, but aims to touch the realm where questions about meaning may spontaneously arise.

     “The experience of commenting is very exciting because you have not met that person yet and he or she might visit your blog post!” – Dariel

     To be intensely aware of the invisible presence of others: that they might come and approach and touch your life; that’s how welcoming our own writing may become, a real home for a stranger.

     “Commenting is exciting and challenging at the same time because you do not know what to say.” – Dariel

     To look in the face the white space to be filled with a comment, as a writer staring at the blank page, as a lover wondering how to disclose his secret, as the first human person addressing another human fellow for the first time: there is something here that relates to an original experience of being authentic.

“What is challenging about posting comments… you need something that is worth reading” – Diego

     Young commenters are fighting for a valuable communication: they wish to grasp the words that will really carry a personal insight, or a challenging perspective that asks for a response.

“I like that I get to read … and have something good about them to write about” – Diego

“I am hoping for someone who I commented on to read my blog and then have a good comment.” – Diego

     This quest has not just one side: it longs for an answer, it is designed to be matched by a response, and its matrix is the human dialogue. The other, however, in its freedom, is not at our disposal, but the risk involved in the adventure of communication is soaked by hope.

“Even though I read the blog, commenting helps me understand what’s happening in the story.” – Jaanvi

     The power of writing is at stake here: the effort to put into words what we have just read or heard brings our effective comprehension to a new level. Deep learning happens through this struggle to conquer the sense one has just grasped in a glimpse and so do strong ties, linking people together, in the clarity of carefully chosen words.

“You say … how the story is really good. I like to give compliments so I like commenting on people’s blogs.” – Jaanvi

     Praising and rejoicing with other people achievements reminds me of the large world Foundation devoted to Kindness, where these Mother Theresa’ s words are reminded:

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”

     And this beautiful thought by Hada Bejar that adresses Jaanvi natural kindness:

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”

Ines

Comments Make Us More Human

the world in a hand week 2 of student blogging challengeImage: STUBC Translation Authorized by Kathleen Morris

#STUBC week2

 Our Challenge follows its epic course connecting hundreds of young people through the world:1550+ from 27 Countries! 

      Week Two was all about commenting:  the complex blog post that accompanied this task went through all the intricate meanders that distinguish a trivial contact from a significant interpellation, independently of the young authors age.

     Besides, the well-articulated post included differentiated strategies which lay the foundations  that may enable eventual insightful conversations. 

      With time and perseverance, any Student may come to excel in the art of dialogue. This so often forgotten art acts as a powerful tool to build peace at all levels.

     Very different thinkers would agree with the vital importance thus attributed to what may superficially seem to be like “just talk”.

 Take the case, for instance, of the young Philosophy teacher François-Xavier Bellamy, who choose to teach in a difficult public school on the suburbs of Paris. There, he met the suffering of his own Students, mostly coming from unfavoured quarters; as they struggled to express themselves clearly, they would easily get angry and anxious.

      Inspired by his kids, who felt “thirsty for reason” he founded “Les Soirées de la Philo” in a central Paris Theatre, where they would gather weekly, to discuss any relevant subject they would chose and to learn how to engage in real dialogue.

     After the success of this initiative, the sessions were extended online, under registration.

    As Hanna Arendt stressed so clearly: “We humanize what is going on in the world while talking to each other about it; and through this dialogue, we learn to be human”.

Ines

Student Blogging Challenge – Catching Up

the world in a hand: announcing the weeks of the Student Blogging Challenge

Image: Courtesy of EdublogsWords Translated with Kathleen’s Permission

     So here we are back on track again for a new edition of the famous Challenge that brings joyfully together hundreds of  Students and thus helps to shape a brighter future for our world.

 Under the charm and experience of both  Sue and Kathleen, we,  blogging lover adults, dare to engage in this inspiring initiative as respectful and enthusiastic commenters. 

     The first two weeks seemed to run so fast that I hardly could follow the wide range of enlightening readings provided by the Challenge Blog Posts.

     So, although I have started to translate them, I soon had to give up and turned instead to focus on actively listening to the young Students entrusted to my care.

 That was surely a rewarding step: kids struggle to identify themselves with the stylized features offered by the Avatars and, by justifying their choices, they start a reflexion upon their own personality: “I choose to put myself in a classroom because I like to learn” – says Gabe;  or even with some humor: “I put my Avatar in Jail because I thought it was funny” – dares Aidan.

As a commenter, I feel grateful for the privilege of listening so closely to the voices of our Youth. I  would like to thank Edublogs for this renewed chance and formulate a vow: may all the Young Participants fully enjoy their Blogging.

Ines

On The Joy of Commenting

só se vêm os jeans e botas de alguém sentado a pique sobre uma falésia que dá sobre o marPhoto by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

     #Stubc Week 3

      There is something that concerns both gentleness and genuine interest, beyond some amount of sensible curiosity, in the fact of visiting and commenting on Students Blogs.

     Our 20th Student’s Blogging Challenge has started almost three weeks ago for its brave and generous journey. About   500 young participants, following common instructions from Tasmanian “Headquarters“, accepted the invitation to confront some subtle challenges on the art of Blogging:  different tasks to accomplish, new skills to acquire and friendly connections to make.

     All these Students come together by means of this common quest, and converge from all over the world in a “ten weeks meeting” to share their best dreams and conquer new friendships.

     For us, lucky adults who share the chance to camp for a while on some of these young bloggers lands, it becomes mainly a deep joy to read them and sometimes stare in wonder while listening to them.

     But they also count on our warm comments, our sincere praise, our humble engagement in conversation meant to learn, to share and to enjoy the grace of the candid communication that builds peace and spreads hope in our world.

    If you can take a moment, please listen to the beauty of the poem of young Rajyashori,  the avid reader who would like to “start some NGO to help the poor people” in her country ; please listen to the ingenious self-introduction at the “About Page” of Mrs Morgan Students, that presents the reader  straitgh forward to a living heart, like the poetic text of Holly  who ” wants to be the friend of everyone”.

     That’s a deep joy about commenting: without noticing, you start listening.

Ines

Celebrating 10 Years of Student Blogging Challenges

mapa mundi que era o símbolo do primeiro desafio de blogging de estudantes

Image: Tecnology in the Classroom

This was our badge for the first Stubc competition

Better Blogguing with Students Course – Week Six #edublogs

    I had started blogging during the Blogging Comment Challenge;   shortly after that adventure, I participated in the first Student Blogging Challenge, back in 2008.

    It  has been an unforgettable experience to me and some of my young students, a handful of them with their own blogs set up, with my help, during breaks or in the evening, asking for support through messenger.

    I tried to come back in later years, even if blogging was still not considered as a school activity, and some Portuguese students have been participants, or have shared the common subjects posted in “Student Friends” or in “Bringing Us Together”(now both archived) between the Challenges, but I’ve been mostly present as a mentor.

alunos d o 6A os primeiros participantes no desafio de alunos

 

These three boys of 6A would lead the lesson by themselves

   Today, I’m celebrating the #Stubc: it has been created by Sue Wyatt, a Tasmanian teacher – almost on the antipode of Portugal – who excels in the art of bringing  students together from all parts of the world.

    In fact, Sue  creates a safe and challenging environment where students may engage in cordial and thoughtful conversations. 

 Twice a year, along ten weeks, each student participant is followed along by an adult, as a commenter.  Each week, an inspiring task with multiple suggestions is posted, so that students write about a common subject or share the same activity.

alunos de 2008 blurred

6B Participants in Carnival Celebration

     Thus, a true web of meaningful communications is weaved among the participants. Students improve their digital literacy as well as their technological skills; but above all, they become deeply aware of their Global Citizenship, and  subtle links of genuine friendship find a  fertile soil to be born and grow.

     I don’t know if there is an Edublogs Award for this admirable effort in which mostly young Students give the best of themselves, but I remember the words of Sue Wyatt about it: 

comentário de Sue Wyatt pedindo que os alunos possam ter um prémio no desafio

Image: Edublogs Awards

     The Twentieth Stubc is about to begin: please, register here, for our Students

“are the bloggers of the future we should be helping to grow”.

Ines

New Year Transformations

Wilson Leonel Painting 149

Wilson leonel via Compfight

     Guest Blogger: 6th Grade Rafael

      This Year, something changed:

  • I’ m  already able to help my Mother a bit more:
  1. By going shopping with her;
  2. By going out to fetch bread for my brother.
  • I manage to deal with others in a more inspiring way and I study better: 
  1. I Concentrate more deeply;
  2. I take small breaks; each twenty minutes, I stop for a five minutes halt;   
  3. I write in my personal notebook which imitates a “Lego”.
  • I also feel that I have discovered something more about knowing how to give:
  1. Not  only when someone at School doesn’t bring a snack;
  2. But also to help people  who are in need, offering goods.
  • I went to Ajuda, with my Sister, to live an experience of Beauty: I built my sister’s foot with two pounds of clay!

Rafael Cy, 6C

Encouraging High Quality Writing

three cookies with a bit of chocolate meltin on the heater

  Image: “How to melt bits of chocolate on cookies at the work place

Better Blogguing with Students Course – Week Four #edublogs

I

      Taking the risk to be trivial, I would start by remembering the fundamentals: 

      I really believe you must love deeply both the unique students you have the privilege to serve and the creative and somehow amazing process of writing. Otherwise it just won’t work; as Christian Bobin so vividly puts it: “To write and to love are the same.”

II

Image: Writing in our tiny Workshop

     Then, I will share just what I live, in my daily context: our Writing Workshop doesn’t take volunteers; on the contrary, kids are sent to us through a process that involves both language teachers, “responsible for the classroom teachers” and our wonderful staff of Educational Psychologists.

     Concerning technical difficulties, the internet connection remains slow on the third floor – where we work – and my kids haven’t been immersed, yet, in the culture of typing, although I suggest them to download a typing software and try it by themselves, five minutes a day. As the young students of Mrs Yollis so clearly explain in their video: “Typing Matters”.

     The other feature that characterizes our work background is the lack of stimuli and training concerning reflection. One could expect that it should flow naturally from young minds, but within our traditional learning environment, it seems to have turned into a hard task, painful to accomplish, due to the load of subjects to deliver. Of course you also find those amazing teachers that master the art of reaching beyond the short horizon of the curriculum, to support their students in the quest for raising the questions that ignite the sparkle of reflection.

III

an empty nest

Hopefully, young writers will be leaving the nest of their confort zone and fly away…

     Finally, students must be helped to discover that they have something unique to say; that they are sent into this exciting mission of conquering their own voice. They don’t have to become professional authors or published writers – although some do, indeed. Their goal should appear like an inner adventure, slowly discovering their own orignal strengths and unsuspected possibilities to create, elaborate and reflect that only come to light through writing.

IV

Image: Three young heros of the writing quest

     After these foundations are settled, students are empowered to aim for high quality writing and we may build upon this solid base by trying a wide variety of strategies to inspire and enhance their writing:

  •       Letting them choose among several hypotheses, the first one being always their own idea. The freedom to choose opens their imagination and is a powerful solicitation to their free will. Then we may brainstorm with them to gather and organize the first draft.

 

  •     Keeping different kinds of prompts ready-to-go, related with a wide range of subjects. For instance, some will prefer to write about their favourite sports, or to discuss the “value” of the month – our global theme for this year – or even share what they are building in our brand new “Makerspace” – “The inventors”; others will choose to recount their birthday party, to speak about what they love to share with friends, to invent a story of action and danger, or of love and phantasy, just by looking into a map or an image, or just remembering a videogame they enjoy to play.

 

  •      Using prompts made by other students: two kids, for instance, elaborate a list of questions about a thrilling subject for others to write about. By taking photos of their drawings and digitizing them, the prompts are decorated, digitized and then plasticised:  kids get easily used to be surrounded by a beautiful appearance of the writing stuff they or their peers created and have been embellished as the content deserves.

 

  •       Children’s books, with simple but deep poetic text or amazingly illustrated, may become a source of relentless inspiration; creative exercise books as “Quero Ser Escritor” and “Setenta e Sete Palavras” always provide us with challenging ways of writing along together: by changing our notebooks at regular intervals; by following a rule that prevents to use a certain letter along a short text of 77 words and so on.

 

  •    Although it may seem a useless duplication of their work, young writers always receive a printed coloured copy of their posts or a printed coloured postcard of their poems. In some cases, they will lose the sheets of paper; in some cases they will be carefully collected in a binder by themselves or by their Mothers. I’ve seen many students who arrived at the writing workshop without a scintilla of enthusiasm who finished fiercely with a binder full of pages.

 

  • Our Writing Workshop is also the tiniest room in the school: up in the attics, 60 steps above the ground, pressed between the Laundry and the Library. It’s open from midday until half past six, where most of the older kids go just to prepare for tests, to learn a better management of time and to train strategies of study.

        Finally, a word about the meaning of the first photo on this post: this minimal place in school also works as a shelter, a cosy spot for a halt: that’s why we may listen to some sweet music and enjoy three cookies and 4 bits of chocolate while we learn to create and to reflect, in an always renewed astonishment, through the wonder of writing.

Ines

Peace In Nature



https://unsplash.com/photos/b9drVB7xIOI
Imagem: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash  

     Guest Bloggers: 7th grades write “at two hands”: 

    Peace is a moment of tranquillity that allows you to reflect upon life and to consider what you have done wrongly or wisely.

     It’s like being in a forest under the moonshine, enjoying good company, silence, and feeling everything around you.

     To feel this ambiance, those smells, that buzz from the bees … in a wonderful landscape.

     Something beautiful, refreshing and quiet like the salty mist, the ocean smell and its incessant movement.

     To plunge into the sea and this being so refreshing, as if you and the sea were just one: this is Peace.

     An eagle that cuts the wind with its awesome wings wide open, flying over the glacier of a magnificent mountain. 

     Me, surrounded by animals, sitting by their little house, building a tiny wood house for another being.

    So much Peace inside you, everything around you is full of quietness and wonder.

    Nature talks to you with silence and with the breeze in the forest, going through drew drops on the verdant leaves.

(Text written “at two hands”according to the bookQuero ser Escritor” de Margarida Fonseca Santos e Elsa Serra)

Alexandre T and André R, 7A

Why Do You Write?

https://getstencil.com/app/saved

       Image:Stencil

      All of us write.

      Among so many other reasons, we also write:

  • To pacify confusing inner voices by bathing them in the silence that makes them legible again.
  • To figure out what we stand for about an essential subject.
  • To liberate imprisoned strengths that remain captive inside us and long to be made flesh in words.
  • To sharpen the blade of critical reason and break the chaos for a harsh decision making.
  • To decentre oneself and make two steps towards the unexpected.
  • To give an obscure intuition the form of a diamond.
  • To celebrate the unconceivable wonder of being.
  • To remain aware of the uniqueness of life and how lucky we are to have been here once.
  • To capture the fleeting movement that denounces the dwelling of a wild beauty  in the hearts of humans.
  • To decipher the ineffable footprint left by the loving presence of others.

And you, why do you write?

Ines