Saturday, March 03, 2007

Audience and Body Blows


Lately I've been getting readership and comments here from students, elementary aged students. It has to do with my post about silent reading. It also has to do with posts from other adults to the blogs of my students. They are curious, of course, and it's pretty exciting to track down the URL of a commenter on their blog - and oh so very cool if it's a grown up with a slick looking blog. And some have tried to read - and even comment to - those grown up bloggers. Several adults have done this, and I expressed appreciation to them at the end of the school year last year. They are still there this year, and there are more of them. So kids are reading grown up blogs. And then eventually, they check out their teacher... not my intended audience, but it IS important to keep in mind.

Yesterday one of my kids got a comment from MV, a fifth grader. Following back the URL left in the comment, I was amazed to see MV had posted some thoughts about reading my blog, and (this is the really cool part) some thoughts about the blog of Logan, one of my most prolific third grade bloggers. Many readers here know the excitement of having yourself cited, quoted, hyperlinked. Imagine how this feels to an 8 or 9 year old. You just can't buy this. It is, as the ad says, priceless.

Body Blows

1. Early in the week I was showing my class some comments left for them by Wes Fryer - very exciting, motivational stuff. They all know how to click on the name of a commenter to get to a url (if it was left for them). On this day I was showing them how to deal with a malformed http... address - how to cut, extract the URL, etc... - to get to the blog of the writer. All ready for Moving at the Speed of Creativity to appear (ta da!), and it is BLOCKED by the district filter. Out of nowhere. Never had been blocked before. A lost moment in the education of a classroom of third graders in so many ways. Ugh.

2. Later in the week, Logan moved quickly to compose a comment in response to the post of MV. All the kids in my class know they must let me see any comments they write from our classroom before they are sent. He spent some time writing and revising this comment. It was a thoughtful piece. I gave him the go ahead to click "submit". BLOCKED by the district filter. What does a teacher say at this point? Ugh.

Body blows are meant to wear the fighter down. They are delivered repeatedly, the effect is cumulative, and eventually the fighter gives up from exhaustion. These would have been glancing blows if I had not worked so hard to create and craft this environment for my kids. They would not have even landed if I did not believe so desperately that what I am doing with my kids is absolutely right.

Audience and body blows - two unrelated topics, maybe. Perhaps my new found audience can deliver a more powerful counter-punch than I've been able to muster.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

Oh, that I had that counter punch--

As a former resource teacher in a large urban district, my encounters with brick walls over the district filter were frequent and disabling-- the district IT department was happy to see me leave and I feel badly to this day.

What I can offer is what I think might be a good "fight song"--posted by Darren on his AP Calculus blog and found on slideshare here. Inadequate I know--

Your students are incredibly fortunate to have you as their teacher! When I read of your work, I'm immediately reminded of Steinbeck's "Like Captured Fireflies". Keep up the good fight! "Climb over, climb under, climb around."


Anonymous said...


We need you and are SO appreciative of your committment to applying this to your classroom. There are so few teachers really doing this and so few examples. Thanks for taking those punches and for keeping it up.