Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Two posts in one day!

Two totally different topics though. I've been participating in the Comment Challenge 08, otherwise seen around these parts as comment08 What an experience already. I've done more commenting in the past week than in the past month. There are daily challenges involved. Here is today's challenge:

For today's task, I want you to come up with three lessons you've learned from your experiences so far. Consider what you've learned about yourself as a commenter, what you've learned about the act of commenting, and how you think your recent commenting activities have impacted you as commenter and a blogger

Two days ago, the task was to make a comment when you disagreed with someone. There's a young student teacher who has been keeping a blog of his experiences. I've been reading his entries occasionally and was generally impressed with not only his ideas about teaching, but his capacity to be reflective. I remember being assigned to journal when I was a student teacher and hating it--I would make up entries just before turning it in. However, there are times when I though hmmm while reading. I decided to comment on one of the hmm entries and it's led to an entire conversation. I like to think, but don't really know, that he's learned something, but I've learned a great deal through our conversation. I've revisited the Bill of Rights, some of the cognitive psychology concepts from grad school round one (yikes, I'm old) and just generally had a good time refining my thoughts about assessment and student learning. The assessments I give students tend to be rather non-traditional these days, although there are still good old vocabulary quizzes on occasion. So it was nice to feel myself articulating why I feel so strongly about making sure that assessment gives students the opportunity to show me what they can do as well as point out what they can't.
I also relived some student teaching nightmares. My mentor teacher disappeared into the teacher's lounge the first day I was there, and got mad when it was time for me to hand classes back to her. She complained, thinking I was trying to get out early, not realizing that the university's semester ended well before the school year. I would never have done this without the comment challenge and so I have already benefited far more than I had thought I would (well, not so much with re-living the student teaching days. . . )

I've also engaged in a little bit of conversation with Bill Farren at Education for Well-Being. I've been able to introduce his ideas to a few people I know who were really impressed. Bill's work demonstrates a passion for making a better world for all of us. He has a vision I want to incorporate into every aspect of my life, professional and personal. He's got a fan club in me, and I'm out to recruit everyone I can!

Finally, I left Danah Boyd a comment. I really like her blog, although I find her scary-smart and much cooler than me. I have never even considered leaving a comment on her blog. She's someone I cite, not someone I talk with. I sound a little junior high here, but there it is. Anyway, I basically wrote her a fan letter and she emailed me back a one-word answer that made my hour. Well worth it.

So, my three lessons are: (1) don't be afraid to engage someone in conversation. Posts can be dialog starters, not just statements. That means mine too. (2) follow up by going back. Drop off comments are not so helpful. (3) a fan letter can be a great thing. 2 and 3 seem in conflict, but they aren't, they are just situational.


Sarah Stewart said...

Glad to see you are enjoying the comment challenge. I have made a point of starting a conversation on my boss's blog which has set off some great discussion about blogging and its place in a big institution. So I am already seeing the benefit of being staregic about commenting. cheers Sarah

musicmind said...

A ha! So that's why you wrote such an encouraging comment at my (music tech) blog: You're on a comment rampage. And here I was getting all philosophical about how the "Universe" after weeks of scant visitors and comments, is sending me signs. Bummer! :)

Sarah Stewart said...

'Comment rampage' - love the term :)

Sarah Hanawald said...

Sarah--Wow, commenting on a boss's blog may be in wikipedia under "courage" I'm impressed!

I may be on a rampage, but I'm still selective ;)

Dina said...

Late comment, hope you're reading still :)-- thanks for this. I have fallen in love with Hannah Boyd thanks to your link, and Bill Farren is a great guy. Have to second the fan letter approach. I've done it about two or three times this year and it totally works.