Saturday, May 5, 2007

Breaking Blogger's Block

As I thought about this blog entry, I realized I had some blogger's block akin to "writer's block." I've had a couple of ideas rambling about in my mind this week but nothing really came forth as the "must blog" about item. I have spent my last couple of drive times to and from work catching up on podcasts from The teachers there often discuss their collaboration on the elgg In these talks, they've presents a few worthwhile ideas on prompting student writing and blogging. So I thought I'd pass along some these today.

Unlike the blog I host with my literature students where the blogspace is devoted to discussing the texts we're studying, the Youth Voices elgg seems to be set up with the purpose of getting students to write about a variety of topics, whatever interests them. And they've come up with some great prompts or ideas of how to spur student writing that could lead to opening up discussions and collaborative posting in the blog. For instance, Paul Allison, often the moderator of TTT writes in response to the question "What do we want students to blog about in school?:
"One of the ideas we are working on with students in these
high school and middle school elggs is '20 Questions: 10 Self and 10 World'.
This is an idea that we’ve adapted from
James A. Beane's from notions of
the integrated, democratic curriculum."
That sounds like a super prompt to get students involved and talking about what matters to them and their world. And from the sound of things on TTT it is yeilding some worthwhile results.
Another interesting idea I heard in a recent podcast is the idea of assigning letters of the alphabet to students to inspire their writing. The challenge for each student is to write about something that begins with a given letter. This was part of a digital storytelling project presented on a TTT podcast by Kevin Hodgson. For one project he and his sixth-grade students decided to tell stories that were each based on the alphabet scheme. Further, he considers assembling them in a variety of ways from alpha order to arrangements of words. Clever stuff.

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