Sunday, May 1, 2011
For the past several years, and thanks to the inspiration of Eric Hudson’s idea, my class creates a blog as we read To Kill a Mockingbird. The book is great fun study with eighth graders both because of their eagerness to practice their new skills in literary analysis as well as their passionate responses to the events in the book. The blog provides a perfect venue for them to share insights into the novel and to create a communal, public record of the evolution of their ideas. They post about symbols they identify in the novel. They post about their moral outrage as they read about the verdict. They comment on each other’s posts in order to agree, disagree, or refine their classmates’ ideas.
Students are required to write polished paragraphs and to support their ideas with evidence from the text. Because they know how public and lasting their writing is, and that its purpose is to build a communal resource, they are invested in contributing their best work. Each student writes frequently and receives immediate feedback from their classmates as well as me. This blog has become an exciting and invaluable component of teaching this novel. By the last chapter, the students have worked together to create something for themselves and each other of genuine intellectual achievement.
Besty Canaday, MS English Department Head