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