Teachers Teaching Teachers #37: Rethinking Journalism with Chris Sloan

EdTechTalk: Teachers Teaching Teachers #37
Rethinking Journalism with Chris Sloan
January 24, 2007
Download mp3 (70:58, 34 MB)

Writing like the post that we’ve copied here makes it easy to listen to what our students think about our work with them. Here’s what a 9th grader in Chris Sloan’s class thinks about blogging at YouthVoices.net:

What makes a good blog post, by Parker at Judge Memorial High School, Salt Lake City

To create a really good blog post, I really think that people need to open up to the readers. Honesty is most effective, because the actual emotion that others put down is probably something that others have experienced, or can relate to. For example, i just read a letter a girl wrote to her father, but he passed away four years ago. It was the most personal, morose, true example of sadness that i have ever read, let alone on youthvoices. I don’t know anything like that personally, but the raw openness made it something that i felt, not just read. I’ve also published some poems on the site, and i’ve gotten some varied, but positive, responses to those, and that’s encouraging.   more below

When I look for a blog post to read, i will go through recent additions to the site, because not knowing what i want to read, i don’t exactly think i should focus on one writer in particular unless i already know i like their work–i try to be openminded in my selections. Length usually doesn’t have too much to do with writing for me, it’s the quality work, not the qauntity of the work that catches my eye. As far as quotations go, in detailed stories that are by the moment, they definitely help, but aren’t exactly necessary as long as the story flows and is relatable. Quotations–i actually jsut read a short 3 sentence work with a quotation–are excellent subject for publishing. They allow a quick glimpse into an issue that might be random, or have some instant meaning to me, but the quick tidbit moistens my tastebuds for more.A few days ago i wrote a poem about some inner conflict, and how it sometimes seems like i’m stuck behind something that i can see past, but can’t be in. This feeling can be applied to other areas of life, but its specifically applicable to me in relationships. I was surprised at how many people commented on this, especially a girl from an other school who also commented on another piece i did. That astounded me that she would have thought my work worth looking at twice. I like my work, sometimes i’m amazed at what i can put onto paper, but i never thought i would get somewhat of that reaction from other students! my posts lately have been about the same thing, in different views, both poems. To me, they were really good, something i would have an interest in reading if it weren’t mine. I’ve commented probably around ten times, a few that haven’t been for school, too. As i mentioned earlier, others have been commenting on my stuff and seemed to have taken a liking to what i wrote.

There’s not too much that i wish i could do, i just like having a forum where i can put a piece of myself into a place and feel like people will value it, and even if they don’t, the emotions or stories need to be let out anyways. I liked doing the thing with the RSS feeds and being able to “subscribe” to work on this site, i thought that was way cool because i had no idea that process existed.

I’ve learned a few things about myself, others and writing on Youth voices. The first is that i think i have a future in writing, or it feels like that to me anyways. The second is that people have liked what i’ve written, and i’ve learned that i can put something down that others will read. I’ve also learned that in this world, there are people with some serious writing talen, and others that have some serious courage in publishing what they wrote for others to read, even if they don’t think it’s that great.

Hoenstly, i have difficulty writing on paper. I have trouble seeing the final product and overall idea behind what i jsut wrote unless i write on computers, which is kind of a strange quirk, but true nonetheless. Usually when i have to write on paper, it’s for a quickie assignment. I usually don’t like those as much, because i feel it’s too rough, not polished enought to be something that has my name on it. If i’m going for a particular vibe on an assignment, it may not come through just right on paper. my mistakes also seem too permanent on paper. I misspell something or write a sentence that doesn’t flow and need to cross it out, and that scar on my work won’t go away mentally, and is always there as a physical reminder. My handwriting, too, when i write on paper is messy and quick because i’m trying to get my ideas down before they leave my mind, so sometimes all that comes out is a scribble that only right then means something and then only to me. Blogging is a whole new expereience for me, and i don’t know if that’s why i like it so much or if it’s just because i have a place to jot my thoughts down so they don’t bottle up inside. And on a blog, the work is there for people to read, and i like comments on my work–it makes me a better and stronger writer; i learn what i need to keep or change in my pieces. With paper there is always that easy way out of letting stuff out, that i could crumple the paper or rewrite it, but on a blog i feel more open to letting feelings out–i like to share with others. If i feel i have a strong piece, i want to know what others’ opinions on it are, and get praise or criticism for what i’ve put down in words. Blogging is just a better way to be heard, to have my thoughts organized, and to get published, than paper has been or ever could be.I really have no knowledge of myspace, but it really seems like it’s overrated. The only adavantage to it is that it seems more personal, that you can have a different “space” than anyone else because of all the options for building your page. For publishing works, i don’t know what it would be like, except that it seems unless there are other writers online, my work would just be lost in the jumble of curse words, x rated material, and unintelligent teen comments that are out there for shock value only. I really approve of the school support youth voices has–it ensures there are writing students on the site and not some trashy mouth punks playing jokes. This atmosphere is more formal to me than it seems myspace would be, and i enjoy having my work taken seriously, and being able to take others’ work seriously as well.

Some Links to other sites Chris mentioned:

Palo Alto High School (this one’s my favorite). I actually visited the school three years ago just to see them work in the classroom.

Annandale High School, Virginia.  This one’s pretty impressive too.




Audio icon 01_24_07Teachers37.mp332.49 MB