Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hello, World!

Colleagues, friends, strangers, welcome to The Blog. These 650 posts represent the collective work of the thirty-five young scholars in my Modern World History classes for the 2008-09 school year. Over the course of three months, seventeen assignments, and a century's worth of history, these kids grew the blog from an experiment in homework collection (driven largely by the theft of my bag – and two weeks of homework – from my car) into a lively, conversational, and truly collaborative historical text.

Assignments on the blog were generally based around independent research – the idea being that, hey, we're on the internet, let's use the damn thing. To that end, students read New York Times articles and opinion pieces off of Slate. They browsed image caches hosted by universities and national archive centers. They combed the World Health Organization databases. They reflected on their own historical experiences in the pop culture of novels and movies. The goal of each blog post was to parse the myriad online resources and turn out an informed, analytical chunk of writing. It was to muse on the strange and wonderful puzzle that is the web.

The most recent posts you'll see, directly below, are end of year reflections. Ungraded, these reflections had students ponder the single most important thing they learned over the course of the year in MWH. They weren't meant to be about the blog – they didn't even have to be about history. Overwhelmingly, however, upon stopping and reexamining the research and writing they did this year, students wrote about the blog and the particular way it made them think about academic tone, opinion and organization, historical arguments, and, most importantly, scholarly conversation and debate with their peers.

So – welcome. Have a look around. You just might learn something (I know I did).

Ms. P, over and out.

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