Our school system subscribes to Blackboard, a web-based instructional platform, and every teacher has access to an internet course that we can adapt for our students. For the last four school years, my teacher friend and I have used Blackboard to create an online community of sixth grade readers and writers called Write Here, Write Now. Even though we work in different schools, every couple of weeks, our students communicate and collaborate on common assignments, posting their work on WHWN. In between times, they have access to an unstructured (but not unsupervised) discussion board where they use writing to connect with the other kids about common interests.
I'm always amazed at the insight that reading what students write to an audience of their peers can provide. We always start with the "Introduce Yourself" assignment, and I spent some time this weekend looking over what my students posted. I was pleased that many kids wrote how much they enjoyed middle school so far, liked our English class, and loved reading and writing. Then there were the funny, surprising, and moving things that some kids felt compelled to share:
My favorite subject is science because you can make things blow up.
I laugh really easily.
I moved to [another school]
We had our fights but I still like my sister.
English is my favorite class. I'm a bad liar.
I used to write a few books, I was never very good.
New York is an amazing city. It is filled with music and life.
My dream is to start a sporting goods company. I will only sell quality goods to my customers.
I am also in love with my boyfriend, except he doesn't know we're dating. His name is Ron Weasley.
The front of my house has an American flag out front with white steps and a concrete porch and a see-through door.
I'm an only child and it's SO boring.
My favourite Earthling foods are a brown substance known as "chocolate", sugary objects known as "cinnamon buns", white objects referred to as "marshmallows", primitively cooked over a fire, and a liquid known as "cocoa"
...in the words of my mom "ABSOLUTEY NOT ALLOWED TO GET A PUPPY"
In school I am as focused as a painting.
I collect snow globes
Ello, I'm Lauren.
I like to dance when the teachers aren't looking.
Oh, yeah... it's going to be an awesome year.