I read with interest Will Richardson's recent article in Edutopia about an 11 yr old girl named Laura who started a blog last year titled 25 days to make a difference. In the article, Richardson shares the story of how she gets her ideas for community service projects.
Earlier this year, as I was listening to a presentation by an eleven-year-old community volunteer and blogger named Laura Stockman about the service projects she carries out in her hometown outside Buffalo, New York, an audience member asked where she got her ideas for her good work. Her response blew me away. "I ask my readers," she said.
Like Laura, my Middle and High school students are blogging around the theme: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world". After receiving parental OK, my students choose a topic for their blog. The topics range from global warming, recycling, humane society, pollution, alternative energies, friendliness to more serious topics such as abortion, teen steroid use, human trafficking and cancer.

I direct their beginning posts and also model for them what kind of posts they can have in their blog. Recently every student embedded a Google form in their blog to either quiz readers about their knowledge of their topic or survey their opinions. Below is a sample that I made for my blog titled "Mrs. Cassinelli's guide to Digital Citizenship".

Our currently focus in our blogging is to encourage interactivity and create interest in the blog topic. Having a survey gets readers to your blog but we are also trying to encourage commenting and conversation.

I taught my students about memes. Each student is reflecting on their topic and creating a meme and challenging classmates to blog about THEIR topic when tagged.

Here's a sample of a recent post by one of my students:
Danika tagged me with Mrs.Cassinelli's meme. The Rules:
  1. On your blog link my blog saying you are participating the the "Digital Citizenship Meme".
  2. Write a short story about something you regret posting online. You don't have to reveal too much personal information. Explain what you wish you would have done. If you have not made any regrets - explain why.
  3. Write digitalcitizenshipmeme as the keyword for your post.
  4. Tag 2 additional people to participate in the Meme. Link their names to their blogs.
I've always been a concious member of digital society. I'm not a flamer, I don't give out personal information, etc. etc. I guess my biggest regret reguarding the topic would be not teaching my sister about the dangers. She even TALKS to some random kid over the phone! She met him online. It scares me, to tell the truth. My little sis talking to someone when she doesn't even know his real name, while he knows hers? It's... just inviting trouble.

Ahem. I tag:

Allie and Janice.
Students are also participating in a comment challenge for two weeks and tracking the number of posts they comment on and number of words. Luckily we recently have made contacts with some other classrooms (http://thinwalls.edublogs.org/ http://wyatt67.edublogs.org/ http://www.classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=73127 ) that are blogging and look forward to sharing our message of change with classrooms around the world.

If you'd like to participate - leave the URL of your class or student blog or visit ours at http://vcs.21classes.com

Watch out world. Today's youth are going to be catalysts of change.
Cross posted at http://www.edtechvision.org

Views: 51

Comment by Scott on December 16, 2008 at 4:05pm
I really like the use of blogging to encourage social change, to increase the audience and the importance in students expressing themselves. This is an excellent reason to engage students in online collaboration. Have you had any experience or read any research which points to acadmeic gains made by these technologies?


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