Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stargirl and the 4th Grade Class Blog

It took me a while to decide how to do a class blog. I finally pulled my inspiration from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli:
Specifically when Stargirl is talking to Leo and she says, "If I ran the front page, I would put painted doors and ants on the front page, and all the bad stuff on page 10." 

I love this idea of celebrating things we usually take for granted, and writing about things we normally wouldn't. We talked about it during a class meeting. Then we took a vote on the name and the slogan and came up with 

The Lincoln Gazette: Where Small Things Are Big News

I decided on the dearly departed Posterous as our platform because it looked great, had a newspaper like template, and you could email your posts directly to the blog:*

The above screenshot is kind of hard to read. It showcases 6 student reports with the following headlines:

  • Boy Gets Invited To House On Saturday For Dinner
  • Friend Got To International Club To Watch Tennis
  • Smackdown in grade four!
  • Boy Plays Board Game, Makes Connection
  • Boy Figures Out A tune on the piano
  • Girl Visits American Club

  • This page showcases a lot of activities, but the class blog became more than what we did. 
    Here are some other headlines:
    • White Spot Noticed On Wall
    • New Fountain Helps Animals
    • Building Next Door Never Finishes Construction
    • Orange Tree Grows In Garden
    • Flaw Noticed On Tibetan Furniture

    Writing the headlines in itself was a great lesson and an authentic way to introduce subject-predicate-object and other grammer lessons.

    Beyond headlines though, it took some time to figure out what exactly could be written on the Lincoln Gazette. We did some writing on our Edmodo forum page and talked about whether the ideas would fall into Stargirl's definition or not.

    And it wasn't until my class started writing in this way that I realized that Stargirl's idea is actually two-fold: To celebrate the uncelebrated, and to notice the unnoticed. Because not everything we notice for the first time is going to be a happy thing. Here's an example:

    The Tree With No Leafs

    In Ayushma's garden, there is a big tree without any leafs. Just a few weeks ago, Ayushma noticed at least a branch full of leaves. Now since the leafs are gone, it kind of looks creepy. The tree looks creepy, because it sort of is like halloween. At night Ayushma dares not to look out of the garden. She hates it how the tree sways by the breeze. Ayushma sort of doesn't like to go outside and just relax by leaning against the tree. Ayushma says that once the tree has leafs covering every branch of the tree, she will lean against the tree, go around it, and have fun with the tree again.By: Ayushma

    I love this article. And it's not a celebration. If I carry the idea over for next year, I'll probably try to set the distinction at the beginning, because I think it's awesome to notice things we don't usually notice, and it's awesome to celebrate things we don't usually celebrate, but it's also important to make the distinction between the two.

    Eventually we expanded our class blog to other interests. We created Stargirl's "page 10" where we wrote some of the negative stuff we noticed (there's a lot in Kathmandu), and the class decided they wanted to have a page that featured animals and a page that featured sports. By the time we expanded our online newspaper, the kids were off and running with their own blogs.

    *Unfortunately Posterous in it's last year was also fairly buggy. It was acquired by Twitter last year not for the software but for the talent that developed the software, and it hadn't been worked on for quite a while. Then in April it was killed.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...