Blogging with students requires biting your [digital] tongue

Cross posted with my Pair-a-Dimes Blog.
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In my last post about my Science Alive wiki, I mentioned that our Renaissance Fair Project was starting, (here is the assignment). I also mentioned that with our lousy computer lab, I wouldn't be blogging again as I did last year.

Well, I decided to go ahead anyway! I can't use our useless communal teacher lab, but I got to spend the 2nd half of the first class in the library using the computers there, and the next 2 days in our Computer Teacher's lab. Although I won't be able to use any lab again until next Wednesday, my students (who all have computers at home) have all started blogging.

In fact, it is 12:15am and a peek at my Meebo chat box I put on the site tells me that there are at least 2 students on the site right now!

Here is a very interesting dialogue that has started on one of my student's blog posts:

Christina K

Mona Lisa?

here are two pictures.

One of a guy named John (i'm not sure who he is though)

And the other of the Mona Lisa

I was reading something on a website and it was talking about how they look alike. I noticed this too.

So I'm wondering whether they are brother and sister, or if they are the same person.

Here is the website address.

Take a look at it.

Posted by Christina K


  1. They have similar noses, forehead, similar bone structure, similar smile or smirk and if you look closely they have similar eyes. I'm not sure if they are siblings, but they might be the same person.

    ChristinaL on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 02:22 BST # |Split post here

  2. Wow, their facial features look almost identical! I researched about the painting on the left and found out that it's called the "John Gesture" and is a portrait of John the Baptist. As for why he's raising his index finger, many historians think that it's because Jesus was always shown raising two fingers while he blessed people. Therefore, John wanted to show people that he was superior to Jesus as one comes before two. I don't really see any connection between John and Mona Lisa but I guess Da Vinci must have had some reason for placing these two paintings within sight beside his deathbed before he died.

    Viola C on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 02:47 BST # |Split post here

  3. But why would Da Vinci make John the Baptist look like Mona Lisa? Da Vinci couldn't have actually seen John the Baptist...

    ChristinaL on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 03:19 BST # |Split post here

  4. They really do look identical. So if one was John the Baptist, and the other the Mona Lisa...what's the connection that could possibly relate to the two paintings being of the same person in a different form? Was John the Baptist in a different time than Da Vinci? If he was then that's just crazy that these two people look identical. Againt eh two ideas were that they could be siblings or they could be the same person. I just don't understand why they would be the same person..

    Christina K on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 04:52 BST # |Split post here

  5. I can't believe how John the Baptist and Mona Lisa, two people from totally different worlds, could look identical. I think it's more than a coincidence that Da Vinci painted them so similar. I guess it's just one more secret that Da Vinci didn't want to share with the world.

    Viola C on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 05:29 BST # |Split post here

  6. Well, this is what I think. As a humanist, he opposed the church in telling how other people should live their life. Could it be that he wanted to show his dislike for the church secretly through many little things he did. Could it be that by drawing John the Baptist with similar facial features as Mona Lisa, he is showing that he may have seen John, therefore completly going against what the church and the Bible says. But then again, my ideas are crazy....

    Jessica N on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 08:03 BST # |Split post here

  7. Da Vinci was a very mysterious man, so it's not very surprising that he made Mona Lisa and the John the Baptist look the same. No one would understand his geinus mind and like Viola said, this would be one more secret that Da Vinci wouldn't share with us and the world.

    ChristinaL on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:17 BST # |Split post here

  8. Take a look at Mona Lisa's shoulders, compared to to other picture. They are practically the same in every way! Mona Lisa's shoulders are large and manly (no offence Mona Lisa). Now look at the other picture. Can you spot a dramatic difference?

    Sara on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:18 BST # |Split post here

  9. Woah thats pretty interesting Christina!

    The picture of the guy, is probably another painting by

    DaVinci. He probably didn't want to show it to others, and hid it somewhere

    where he thought no one would find it.

    It also can be a painting of him when he was younger!

    Yeah thats all. Good Job!


    Tijana M on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:20 BST # |Split post here

  10. also if you look in the picture of the last supper there is a man holding up one finger like
    the picture of John the Baptist

    JessicaT on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:26 BST # |Split post here

  11. I was just looking at the picture of Mona Lisa.

    I observed her close up at 200% and I noticed a really weird line going across her forehead... the line seemed really out of place. From my discovery I looked a her hair on the left side and I noticed that there was a veil type thing, maybe she was getting married, or she was getting married to John the baptist Any other Ideas?

    Katie Z on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:32 BST # |Split post here

  12. This is amazing. If I was to first see these pictures I'd think they were twins. There smile is identical. Also there noses look exsactly the same. Only if there hair was the same I would think that it was the same person.
  13. Amrit C. on Thursday, 17 May 2007, 21:33 BST # |Split post here

There are some great observations here. My emphasis in the class is on Da Vinci the inventor and scientist, but look at the student generated interest in his artwork! Would this kind of [off topic?] interaction happen in a classroom? Would it happen if this was a paper assignment?

Now here is the challenge for me... LET THE 'CONVERSATION' HAPPEN!

When I read, "...maybe she was getting married, or she was getting married to John the baptist..." I really wanted to post a little time line. Earlier I actually started typing a comment suggesting that perhaps Da Vinci used the same model for both paintings, then erased it rather than posting it... I forced myself to 'bite my tongue'.

The fact is that I am not used to letting students take ownership of their learning in this way. I want to 'teach' them... isn't that my job?

But if I had put that "perhaps Da Vinci used the same model" post in after the 5th or 6th comment, would the other comments have followed?

If I chose now to comment on the century-and-a-half chasm in time preventing John the Baptist from marrying Mona Lisa, then who will I be taking this away from? Whose voice will I be stealing? Who will I prevent from asking 'Exactly who is John the Baptist?' Who will I be stopping from researching and answering that question?

Would JessicaT have been inspired to write this post?

In Christina K's blog is the picture of John the Baptist and how he is pointing his finger, I did some research and in the picture of the
Last Supper, there is one of the 12 deciples on the right side to Jesus
is pointing one of his fingers out. Also in another picture by Da Vinci
two versions. One was rejected by nuns, and one wasn't (the picture
above was the rejected one)

Posted by JessicaT


Interesting research you have done! Thanks for putting all these together to
compare! Are you going to look into the meaning behind the 'pointing finger'?

Mr. Truss on Friday, 18 May 2007, 04:54 BST # |

As you can see, I did comment here. Perhaps when the conversation lulls on Christina's blog, I may ask 'who was John the Baptist?'

I am hoping to promote inquiry.

It is the classic 'guide on the side' rather than 'sage on the stage' issue. However, it isn't easy to stand back and let all this learning happen without me. But, in a web2.0 world, where students are meaningfully engaging in Learning Conversations, we really must bite our [digital] tongues.

Views: 36

Comment by Carolyn Foote on May 18, 2007 at 5:07pm
I do think when we give students opportunities to teach one another, they will come forward and have conversations like these! Kudos to you for giving them that space!

We tried a research project where students shared topics across class periods and used a wiki to collect their information. In addition to being a great learning experience, it was a fascinating social experiment to see how some students emerged more as guides, some as the comics, some as the organizers, some as the designers...but it was nice because they could all play to their own strengths.

Again, kudos for creating a space for students to guide one another!
Comment by David Truss on May 23, 2007 at 12:00am
Thanks for the comments,
I hope you don't mind, but I added these to my comments on my Eduspaces blog, and stated this:

It never occurred to me before that the reason it was so hard to 'bite my tongue' is that this is actually harder to do face-to-face, and that asynchronous contributions by students permits and promotes more meaningful dialogue than what would be forced within the limited time-frame of a classroom.

Thanks again!


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