Prior to this class, I had never considered a blog a “learning community.” OK, to be honest, I didn’t know there were such places as nings and though I could have guessed they were out there, I had never considered the idea of there being a whole online community of English geeks teachers like me out there swapping thoughts on reading, writing and, maybe, a little critical theory. But I’ve enjoyed it. There’s definitely been a learning curve. What I “saw” for my blog—the graphics, the incredible design and witty posts, the digital fireworks etc—has not necessarily come to fruition. At one point, I wrote on a piece of paper, I hate blogging because I spend more time figuring out how to do something than I do writing or sharing info. It is a vortex of futility. Dramatic? Possibly, but I was frustrated.
It’s the problem I have with lots of technology, though. I love it, and it makes my life easier, but because I only use my computer (or television or printer or even microwave) for the same tasks over and over again, I never get around to learning what else the computer/internet can do outside of what I need it to do. (I read the service manuals but only for the sections I need. There’s a lot of skimming going on.) If I keep working away at this new-fangled digital literacy scene, though, I know my skills will start coming along a lot easier. (And, not to brag or anything, they have.)
I do want to take advantage of technology—and specifically the advantages offered by blogging—in the classroom; I especially like the idea of a class blog, someplace where the students can post their thoughts and at the same time have access to the ideas of their classmates. I know I certainly appreciated reading what everyone else in this class had to say. And when someone commented on my blog? Well, who cares if they were required to do so, it still felt cool to know the words hadn’t just floated out into the internet ether. They had been read. Someone had listened—or at least taken the time to respond.
That’s where blogs get you, too. People have the feeling that others are listening; they’re taking notice of what you have to say. You post, someone comments, so you post again and the cycle fuels itself. In the classroom, a blog would not only encourage students to write—because of the sharing of ideas, the being heard, the validation—but also give them a sense that the work they do is for something. The assignment isn’t just going into some grading folder of old Ms. Galbraith’s; it’s going online, their classmates are reading it, and there’s always the chance that it’ll be their post that’ll start something (as in a constructive dialogue, of course).
On a final note, I’ve appreciated the chance to learn these skills in the classroom. I wasn’t told, “You should try using technology in the classroom,” and then told to read this book of critical theory over here. I got to read the theory (which came packaged in the very useful “You Gotta Be the Book) AND practice using multi-modal strategies in the classroom. I may have known these strategies existed, and that they were useful, but I wasn’t aware how broad their application could be.
This post isn’t so much meant to convey a learning resource as it is to highlight a fashion one…or a nerd one depending on just how far you’ll go to show your love of books. This carrying case from Twelve South is for whenever that new laptop comes my way.
I love reading interviews with writers and artists, and they’re a great resource when it comes to teaching. The really good interviews are also a way to show students that the individuals who write the stories and poems they’re reading in the classroom were/are real people (or most of them anyway). These writers were young once, too; they doubted themselves, they struggled, and they survived. Not all of the interviews will be stories of Horatio Alger triumph, but they can provide insight, advice, and–like the best ones–a little humor, too.
One of the best resources comes from The Paris Review’s Writers at Work Series. Beginning in the 1950s, it covers an incredible amount of writers.
Every wanted to hand write a letter or note but wish you could type it as well? Fontifier.com will turn your own handwriting into a font. I’ve yet to try it out; since every time I try to make a master copy of my handwriting with the template they provide, I somehow manage to mess it up. (Yes, I do have poor handwriting. One more reason I could use this site.)
Tags: book reviews, reading, Tennessee, writing
Disclaimer: So maybe I do write for Chapter 16, but it’s a darn good blog. Honest. Under the auspices of Humanities Tennessee, Ch. 16 is their “digital literature and language program” aka a website for readers, writers, and all lovers of literature. The site posts book reviews and interviews (here’s one I recently did with Inman Majors) as well as essays, poems, podcasts, readings, signings, and most everything else related to literature and the state of Tennessee (which sometimes means authors native to TN and sometimes authors who are just passing through). The site is also broken up into categories such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and Children’s/YA. The more visitors the site has, the more chances Humanities Tennessee has of continuing its great work (Go Southern Festival of Books!) and generally spreading the word about reading and writing in Tennessee and the South.
This is the compendium of all literary and newshound websites: Arts and Letters Daily has links to blogs, columnists, news outlets, journals, magazines, newspapers (both domestic and international),and so, SO much more.Sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the site’s motto is Veritas odit moras or “Truth hates delay. ” There are all manner of articles here, and content is updated daily. If I’m looking for something to read, this is where I tend to look first. Periodical junkies, beware.