Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joining the String

I feel like I've gotten a little lazy in my blogging....but I'm also not going to tell a lie--the past week has maybe been the very busiest one of the semester so far.  In the past week I have:

  • Uploaded what felt like a million assignments to my online teaching portfolio
  • Switched my closet from spring/summer to fall/winter (YAY!)
  • Finalized a thematic unit to teach to my classes
  • Started a thematic unit of social networking with all my classes
  • Cleaned my house thoroughly
  • Finally took care of 2 1/2 to 3 weeks of laundry 
  • Started a PowerPoint for a curriculum conference presentation
  • Went grocery shopping for the first time in over a month
And most recently

  • Got horribly sick and slept for 18 hours straight on Monday/ truly amazes me what utter exhaustion can do to the human body
However, now that all these tasks, both important and mundane, have been completed, I feel so much better about where I am in life.  I went back to school today after one miserable sick day and felt ready to take on the rest of the semester.

On Friday, I started my big "project" for the semester.  I'm teaching an eight-day unit themed around social networking.  The kids will work with Facebook "status updates," take Tweets and make grammatically correct sentences out of them, and, most importantly, they'll be starting their own blogs.  Their pre-assessment assignment was to write an essay about how social networking affects them and their society.  I was really surprised by the range of answers I received.

Of course, I received what I expected from lots of students--"I'm addicted to Facebook" and "Social networking is my life" were common answers on several essays.  However, I also got several student responses that thoughtfully considered the negative effects that social networking has had on their generation.  One response from a 7th grade boy struck me as both thought provoking and beautifully written.  This is what he wrote:

I feel sort of like I'm in a box.  It's fairly large and translucent, but it's a box nonetheless.  I can see, feel, hear, taste, and smell everything in my box, but that's it.  I don't know if there's anything outside.  When I see everybody else--my sisters, friends, and just about everything else, I look at their long arms, ears, and eyes, and see how deformed they look.  They're all tied together with strings.  Social networking cuts out their tongues and breaks their legs.  They don't talk, don't move.  I may be in a box, but it's airtight and free from contamination.  I'm still human.

This is maybe the most beautiful extended metaphor I've ever heard about social networking.  The abstract thinking that this student portrayed in his writing took my breath away.  But isn't it also so true?  Sometimes I wish I was in a box like him, shut out from the world and it's problems and drama.  When I was sick and slept for 18 hours straight, it was kind of like being in his box.  I got a break from Facebook, the news, and every other personal distraction for almost a whole day, and when I came back I felt like I had missed out on so much.  I'm stuck in the string.  So many of us are.  The wisdom of this week is this: If you're going to be stuck in the string, be the positive part.  Several of my students talked about the negative drama that social networking brings about.  We all need to  take a step back and be the positive part of all our networks, whether they're school, family, friend, or online networks.  Be the change you wish to see in all your worlds this week, and I'll try to do the same.


  1. Wow! Thiat young man is impressive! I think this is my favorite blog post thus far. Very thought provoking and beautifully written-- both teacher and student.

  2. I am loving your blog! My daughter is finishing her degree and wants to teach middle-school english. I have sent your blog to her, as I think it will inspire her. Thanks for your insight.
    ~Mollianne Massey