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Day Trip: Project 180, Day 81

Operation Project Memory this week, but first a small side trip, a day trip into the blogosphere. Weeks ago, the kids selected topics for their independent learning projects, and one of the first major components was to create a blog for their respective topics. At the time, though I was prepared to take whatever time was necessary, I didn’t anticipate that it would turn into a yearlong project, which is what it looks like it’s becoming. And while, I am comfortable with extended, even really-extended timelines, it’s not always so comfortable for the kids. To  be sure, they are accustomed to the factory-line approach, the get-through-the-content approach to learning. So when we don’t exactly rush through and on, it feels a little strange to the kids, a lot strange for some. And while it is not my goal to make things “strange,” it is most certainly my goal to make things different.

Back to the side trip. But first a little more of the backstory. The kids have produced 5 or more blog posts in the past weeks. Each post must have a title, an image, 200 words or more of text, and it must also contain evidence of various writing craft elements that we have been working on: hooks, parallel structure, figures of speech, etc. Recently, they’ve also taken on the additional duties of finding, reading, and summarizing topical articles and providing weekly reflections about their posts. I have not visited a single blog, nor have I read a single post. By design.

This type of writing is what we ELA teachers like to call “readable” writing. It, unlike daily writing, is meant to be read by an audience. It has to be readable–audience ready. But too often that audience is limited to the teacher who is more a default reader than an authentic reader. So, to do different, I have taken myself out of the audience. The kids’ peers will be their audience. Oh, I will eventually be a reader, but that will come later. For now, I want the kids producing something out of interest for a real audience, not out of compliance for the default reader in the room. In the 180 classroom this approach is somewhat out of necessity. The 180 classroom is already different, so I have to continue different. There is no grade for accountability, so for something like this, I have to rely on the accountability of audience and the motivation of interest. And that, too, like long timelines, is not always familiar or comfortable for the kids. They want transactions. Sorry to disappoint them. For now, they will have to settle for inviting others to view and comment on their blogs and reporting on that to me through a reflection. That can be their transaction.

Happy Tuesday, all. Have a great short week. Come on spring!

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