I have a new project and I am both excited by it and thrilled by the response to it. I probably sound over-earnest, over-enthusiastic and all too serious but this is something that is important to me.
ReadWriteZone is a project aimed at fostering an interest in reading and writing though blog-based classroom interaction between students and authors. Teachers provide input on the focus they would prefer for the project and incorporate the blog conversations in their literacy studies. Early posts have ranged from comparing books and movies to first paragraph writing exercise. The post on The Story Detective – Finding Story in Pictures might be of interest to schools intending to participate in the NSW Department of Education’s WriteOn competition where a photo has been provided as the story stimulus.
The project is in its first term and I am currently blogging with three schools – Smithfield Public School (NSW), Arncliffe Public School (NSW) and Manor Lakes Specialist College (VIC) for 8 weeks. Ultimately I hope to involve more authors and on ongoing stream of schools. Initial feedback is suggesting a 4 week period might be a more practical option for some classes.
A stumbling block for NSW public schools has been the Department of Education and Training’s block of blog sites. In these cases a workaround is in place and a solution is being investigated by the teachers involved. Some schools access the blog via interactive whiteboard and others in library computer sessions. Students are encouraged to log in at home.
It is very early days yet but the project is proving popular with students and lively comment-based discussions are in place. I endeavour to add a multimedia element to the exchange and this always encourages comment. Already students have logged in from home to check what’s happening and they are beginning to engage in discussion across school blog posts, commenting on the discussions I am having with other schools. Ultimately I hope this leads to direct cross-school conversation between students. Some students are already sharing written work, recommending books for others and contributing book reviews.
Any teachers or students are welcome to join current discussions. Teachers interested in participating next term can contact me samuraikids~at~people.net.au (replace ~at~ with @ when emailing).
Personally, I find ReadWriteZone a lot of fun and the feedback from the students is inspiring. Some of them are readers and writers and some of them are not. But they are all up for a good ReadWrite discussion!