How can I shape the way the world sees me?

The title of this blog post is the driving question for my current Year 9 project. For the next three weeks my students will be working on shaping their digital footprints by creating digital content that reflects their passions. The main focus for the project is the creating and writing of a personal blog. I am calling this project ‘Passion-Driven Blogging’.

After a frantic series of tweets last night (see below) I was given some wonderful ideas about blogging. The most exciting connection was with David Mitchell who suggested that I participate in his QuadBlogging project. You can read about QuadBlogging here but essentially it connects four schools together for the sole purpose of sharing student blogs. It ensures that students who blog get a wider readership but also has the wonderful added benefit of cultivating a critical eye in the young bloggers as they provide feedback on the blogs of their peers.

Just an hour ago I had my first lesson with my wonderful Year 9 class. It is the very first day back after Spring break and my students were keen to know what unit we were moving on to. Ever the one to encourage suspense I simply raised my eyebrows and stayed silent.

The lesson began with me showing the students a series of YouTube clips and discussing the purpose and audience of each clip as well as the way in which the internet was represented in each. Very quickly the students began guessing as to the focus of our unit – was it YouTube, was it cyber safety, was it looking at the pros and cons of the internet?

Here’s the clips we watched:

After a quick chat about the different attitudes adults (especially parents and teachers) have about the internet and digital idenitity, I set the students the task of googling themselves. Before they jumped on their computers I showed them a google of my name and asked them to skim through the search results (on both images and web) and see if my search was a ‘healthy google’ or an ‘unhealthy google’. They all agree it was healthy and I prompted them to explain why. Obvious answers abounded: nothing bad was found, nothing embarrassing, my positive online behaviours could be seen, I love education and people could see that. I asked them what the search revealed about my passions. They all acknowledged that the search revealed that I am passionate about education.

Coo, huh?

So the kids then googled themselves and had a bit of a laugh about what they found. I used one student as an example to show the class (with her permission – thanks Alex) and asked the students what we could tell about her passions. There wasn’t much to be said. All that turned up in her search was the obvious social networking sites. So how what do I know about her from the search? Not much.

I have one more period with my students today. The task? Ask them to write a paragraph explaining what they are passionate about and what they would like to be known for. Give them the driving question …

Oh, and we’ll watch the clip below about blogging and begin researching the best blogging site for each one of them to use.