Paying It Forward

2/11/2006 12:55:00 am

This past week has been really hectic and I haven't had a chance to blog. I'm really aggravated that I missed out on Alan, Brian and D'Arcy's Social Software Salon on Thursday. It sounds like it was a blast. Anyway, tonight I stumbled across something and had to blog about it.

Back in November I speculated about what will happen when kids leave blogging classrooms; the impact it will have on the kids expectations about learning and how a (math) class is "supposed" to operate. How will they affect their teachers?

In December I presented the first incarnation of my OLÉ (Orchestrating a Learning Ecology) workshop in response to requests from teachers in my school and one of our feeder schools. A friend started his own class blog as a direct result of that workshop. (One of the students had explicitly asked him to in the comments to the OLÉ post What If Your Blog Was Gone?.)

He's not implemented "scribe posts" as a regular feature of his class as yet (although a few other teachers have) but he's got about 10 students of mine from last semester's Pre-Cal 20S and Pre-Cal 30S classes. This week they started spontaneously posting scribe posts to their new blog. They referenced material from last semester's Pre-Cal 30S blog and the math dictionaries they generated last semester.

Another student, a master of the positive comment, who is not taking math this semester has solicited my friend to join his blog. He posted:

Hi fellow bloggers. If you don’t know my name… My name is Richard. If you don’t know why I’m here… Then… I don’t either. But anyways. The main reason I’m like on your blog is that I’m here to help you guys. Yes as impossible as it may seem. I’m here on the blog. So live with it. I actually passed this course last semester if that’s so hard to believe. I know it is for me. But in other cases I’m just around to help the fellow bloggers blog and to give at least a tiny bit of incite into every thing you do on the blog. Yes I’ll be commenting allot and allot and that means allot. I’ll also be posting up allot of blogging tips and crazy help from myself the remnants of the first semester bloggers. Who knows… A study group may get back together again. Hahaha. Well anyways. I just wanted to say hi and bye. I’ll be back…

Oh yeah. Here’s a tip for Mr. Malandrakis… Make a chat box. Because it’s actually a good study tool and it creates a classroom outside a classroom. ;) And... If you want to read the course... Then.. Read PC30S first Sem. It's all there. There's some intresting posts there too. You know... Pop goes the weasel... Hahahahaha

Richy Out.

(Richard alludes to the pride he has in writing the textbook for the course with his classmates.)

Another student also asked for a chatbox to be installed. And yet another student, who has never been in a blogging class before, is being positively influenced by his more experienced blogger classmates.

I can't help but feel proud of how my former students are paying it forward but I think this is just the first sign of something deeper that has taken hold and is growing.

No one can take away from these kids what and how they have been taught. If their learning environment is not orchestrated for them they orchestrate it for themselves. The main thing they have learned is not the technology (although there is no denying they have learned that too), they have built a learning community that has extended beyond their classroom walls. They have learned the power of collaboration and, most importantly, they have learned how to learn. Not only can this not be taken away from them but they are leveraging the power of their learning community to spread it to others. What a great way to end the week!

UPDATE (Feb 15, 2006)
Mr. Malandrakis has implemented scribe posts as a regular feature of his classes. But the kids are the ones who generated The Scribe List and are updating it every day!

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  1. Yeah...I agree with Anne. This is very, very cool. It's not going to happen that way with every kid, obviously, but that's one who has learned how and been empowered to teach. Wonder how that happened... Congratulations, Darren.

  2. Anonymous18/2/06 08:23

    Thank you both. Will, I'm looking forward to shaking your hand at BLC 2006. Anne, any chance you'll be there too? ;-)

  3. Thanks for sharing these stories-- I was looking for what I think were your November posts when prepping for these sessions as worthy discussions of "What Happens at the End of a Course Blog?"

    Hopefully it is an evolving practice where the examples you describe move from extraordinary to ordinary.

    At the same time, I am curious about the kids who have the experience but have not taken such leaps.