Monday, May 19, 2008

Twenty four new blogs out there

I finally thought my students were ready for it, so there are now twenty four new blogs out there by some of my students at Saipan Southern High School. Some of these young men and women have put together some very appealing blogs. Some are still a work very much in progress. At least half of these students do not speak English as their first language. Here is one of the blogs, and there are links to many others on that site. These are 14-year-olds finding their voice and finding out their voices matter. Feel free to leave them a comment, make suggestions, encourage them, even argue with them a bit to make them think.

Many of my students began the year thinking "Baby Ruth" was the first African-American in major league baseball, the governor determined the price of gas and World War II occurred in 1860 or 1960. Many expressed these thoughts in giant uni-paragraph essays with his and he's mixed up and subjects and verbs that agreed less often than Bruce Bateman and Lil Hammerhead. Those problems haven't been completely eradicated, but progress has been made. These students are also putting together a powerpoint presentation for the first public speaking engagement of their lives, and they will conclude the year by creating a podcast.

While I was on paternity leave I gave these students a giant research project. I asked them a series of questions, fifty to be exact, from all branches of world awareness. I had them find out for themselves everything from how to make chicken soup and better tasting coffee to details on the Kyoto Protocol to awareness of what mutual funds and equity derivatives are and what they can do, to the reasons for tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I'm hoping they learned they can find things out on their own, and more importantly, I hope it lights a spark that ignites a raging intellectual curiosity. There are now many things they know something about that I didn't know at all until I was twice their age.

I have many faults as a teacher. I'm fairly impatient, I'm not as warm and fuzzy as I probably should be, I get frustrated and I'm from an area of the world where people talk quickly, so I have to remind myself to slow it down. I don't know whether this is a good or bad thing, but I don't talk to them like they are little kids or be any less honest and forthright with them than I am with anyone else. I think they appreciate that aspect, and the humor, which tempers the fact that I'm a demanding and sometimes tough SOB. I also brood about the state of education overall on this island too often, but in reviewing recently the progress these kids have made in these last ten months, I feel good about it today. A teacher needs those days.

9 comments:

dominic said...

Cool Beans Jeff!

Hopefully the spelling natsies don't get ahold of them. lol

Boni said...

They are not little kids and the less they are treated like that, the more they behave maturely. Good job, I know they'll miss you. BTW, can you make it to Porky's Saturday ?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Good for you, Jeff. Getting these kids to write and to enjoy expressing themselves is a major coup.

I'm sure they will remember you as 'the teacher that taught them to think critically'....and 'the teacher who set a record for most demerits handed out'. HEHEHH

Jeff said...

I'm still here, and don't have definitive plans to be anywhere else, Boni. I plan on being there Saturday.

Saipan Writer said...

Kyoto Protocol? Mutual funds? Sheesh, I have to remember what these things are...

And as for the need to talk slower, the fastest talkers I know are locals, speaking English. When they want to...

Now, I'm off to check out these new blogs. Hope you're staying here for next year. Our kids need this kind of encouragement and teaching.

glend558 said...

Jeff, I checked out your kids blogs (a few) and they all have each other listed. Why don't you make a link list so we can write them some comments. I'm sure they would be thrilled to get any comments to their blogs.

Jeff said...

They're all linked to each other, so if you have one, which you do, you should have all. I'll put something together here soon I'd imagine.

Pilgrim said...

Jeff- I commend you for being so creative in your teaching style. The internet is an enormous resource but sorting between the wheat and the chaff is the challenge. It's so easy for researchers to use "opinion" instead of "facts", and even think outright "fiction" is reality on this wonderful medium. It's never too early to learn how to type fast, and use the internet in this day and age. As a 61 year old codger, I sure wish the internet was invented by our buddy Al back when I was in school.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

The blogging in Singapore is done mostly by high school students. Blogging will really take off on this island when the kids start doing it.