Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dream Come True

roomtwelve 09-10This will sound so corny, but I just don't care. What happened today at school was a dream come true.

This is my fifth year blogging with a third grade class at When I started, in the fall of 2005, there were not a whole lot of elementary classroom blogs out there. But once we got rolling that year, I began to think about the future of the writing my students were doing. What would happen to all those articles, the comments, the conversations? My students struggled with this as well. At the end of that first year, I wrote in Rugged days :
The kids really want to blog. Yesterday we talked about next year, when they won't be with me, when they won't have their beloved blogs, and so on. There were tears as I explained how I would phase them out. Lots of good questions. They were grasping at straws, trying to wrap their heads around how the blogs could still exist, live on, somehow remain. This phenomenal response is unlike anything I have seen in 25 years of teaching.
As of today, nine students are missing from a very long Room Twelve Alumni List, and that is the dream come true. I managed to transfer every word from their third grade blogs to their new fifth grade teacher's classroom blog. Every single blog post, comment, and conversation from their third grade writing experience is back with them, so their new teacher can to continue to facilitate and guide their growth as effective 21st century writers.

Tomorrow they finally rejoin that journey. I have dreamed about this happening for over four years, and I could not be happier.

The transfer of bodies of work like that, held in databases, referenced and hyperlinked all over the Internet, is no small feat. I held my breath as I sat next to their new, young, fifth grade teacher, each of us logged in to our classroom blogs. I went through the process of making students "orphans", making them available to their new teacher, and then watching him "adopt" them into his new classroom blog. Several came with over 50 pieces of writing. Not exactly like walking down a school hallway to offer a thick manila folder of writing samples to a cringing new teacher who may or may not ever look inside - never mind share with another person....

This transfer was unbelievably exciting - for both of us.

One person is responsible for this, David Warlick. My hat is off to him for having the vision, for putting in the countless hours developing and debugging an incredible tool, and for caring about our kids' education. Thank you David, for Classblogmeister.


Anne Davis said...

It's not corny, it truly is a dream come true and I can really identify with it! You have been doing and continue to do outstanding work with your kids! I will continue to follow you and the kids! Best to your past and future bloggers!!! I know it's going to be another great year for you.

Mark Ahlness said...

Anne, your support means a lot. Thank you - Mark

Sczerkis said...

I think that this is one of the coolest new ways that technology is affecting the classroom. I especially like the fact that your students will now be able to track their own progress through their years at school. This, in my opinion will make them better writers as well as better students. Not only is it an educational tool, but it's like a time capsule; a journal, if you will, that they can never lose. This was a good idea.

Jamie205 said...

Hello Mr. Ahlness. I am a soon to be teacher and I will admit that at first I was a little confused as to why you were so excited about this! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the importance of what you had been able to do. I've been reading lately about how reflection upon yourself is key to understanding how you've grown as an individual and what better way to do that than by having access to writings from your past years?! I've kept a few journals over the past few years and for some reason, I always end up tossing them out or losing track of them and there are times when I really wish I hadn't! So, I see now that you've really done something phenomenal for these children! And I'm sure they will really appreciate it someday if they don't already.