Try Blogging with 180 High School Students. It Works!

Imagine 40 computers in use.  The tip tap of typing fills the room.  Partners in the front read aloud their writing to each other while editing.  Two classmates in the back chat about how to get started on their posts.  A staff member reminds a student of the resources available to find a synonym.  Both English and Spanish bounce around the room. This is in part what Kacey and I experienced at the Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute (OMLI) where about 180 high school migrant students blogged.

The past two years, I have developed the institutes’ blog and lead the students in blogging.  In addition to working with the participants, I have had the pleasure of working with the college-aged staff.  It is simply amazing to watch the college students mentor the high school participants.  The seized learning opportunities and transformation of the students and staff is inspiring.  Every time I partake, I receive more than I give from this amazing group of young people who have so much to offer society and our future.

During the 2010 OMLI sessions, we started small scale and were in a small computer lab, but we grew  this year.  There was limited time to blog—four, fifty minute sessions.  The sessions consisted of basic blogging instruction, technology discussions such as digital footprints, and writing instruction.  They offered participants a taste of what it is like to be in a university lab and exposure to the writing process.  Perhaps most importantly to students, they were able to record some of their experiences and thoughts.  Take a look at some of their work in the links that follow!

Session 2: Thank you for your patience and persistence as we problem solved when the network was down on the last day.  You demonstrated leadership skills by sticking with the blogging experience.   

Session 3: It amazed me how concentrated you were on writing and producing your best. You had some amazing uninterrupted time to write due to your dedication.  Your developed writing with details and description, given your time constraints speaks for itself.

Kacey graciously filled in for me in my absence during session 1.  Here’s a comment from her.
Session 1: Thank you for your hard work in your first adventure in blogging.  I learned a lot from you and hope to hear how things are going.  

Staff: We both thank you for helping with technology questions, the writing process, and commenting.  We also appreciate reading your point of view on the staff blog!

Our take aways:  We both had fun exploring blogging with a group of this size.  Cheridy also experimented more with Picasa, setting up and managing multiple blogs, and Prezi.   In addition, we were reminded of the importance of having a low tech plan B, and glad when one kicked in when the Internet was down one of the sessions!  Just try blogging without Internet.

Listen up participants!  The teacher in us will say it one more time:  "I" doesn't want to be small.  Don't hurt it's feelings.    Don't forget to use your resources. For those of you who expressed interest in continuing blogging, email us your blog url address if you keep it up.  Happy blogging! 

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