Kicking Around an Idea…

Dear Readers-Who-Are-Also-Teachers, I have a question/favor to ask.

I’ve been thinking a lot – as I am wont to do – about connection and communication. The other day, while willing myself to get out of bed, I had a thought. Please keep in mind that it is still in its nascent stage and that any and all suggestions are cheerfully and gratefully welcomed.

I would like to get my (white, mostly affluent, suburban) high students in touch with kids whose lives are different from theirs. Sure, we read about experiences that other people have, but I think the act of having real contact with a real person who lives differently than you – of having a connection with an actual person with whom you can form a genuine human bond – is far more profound and meaningful.

What I would like is to connect with a teacher in another part of the country (or the world, even; isn’t the internet da bomb?) and get our kids in touch as part of our language curriculum this year (if this works with even a modicum of success, I would like to make this kind of cultural outreach a component of the English curriculum going forward, but that, as they say, is another bridge). What I originally envisioned would be a sort of sister-classroom scenario, but if we end up connecting to more than one school in more than one place, that will work, too (and, I think, can open up a lot of really great opportunities for discussion and research).

I’m imagining all kinds of communication; email, blogs, Skype, and (gasp!) letters written on paper and sent through the post (Mrs. Chili, can people still do that?!). I don’t know yet how often this communication would happen, but I would like for it to be an organized thing for the classroom – whether or not the kids get in touch on their own time is up to them.

I teach in a teeny-tiny school – no, really; we’re expecting slightly fewer than 80 students this year – so my classes are never going to be more than 20 students (my normal class size is between 15 and 18 kids). If this is something you’re interested in (or something you think a colleague might be willing to play along with), leave a comment. I’ll happily answer any questions you ask (though do make sure you enter your email address with your comment; I’ll only answer some questions privately as I’m maintaining the illusion for myself that I’m protecting my anonymity here).

Do you think this will work?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Kicking Around an Idea…

  1. I think that’s a pretty good idea. Too bad I don’t have a class to share with you.

  2. jen

    I think it’s a great idea! The students in my “Reading for Pleasure” class write letters to each other all the time and I think it would be wonderful to have someone else to write them to as well! Let’s get in touch!

  3. Darci

    I would love to but I am thinking my 8th graders would not be prime candidates but I can connect you with a friend who teachers 11th and 12th grade at a large charter high school in a suburb of Los Angeles. Just let me know….

  4. Hey chili,

    I have some good English teacher contacts in Mississippi if you want to e-mail me. If you get a chance check out my last blog post. There’s a link to my recent TV clip there.

    All the best,

    Dr. B

  5. Darci and Doc, if you would be so kind as to ask your colleagues if they’d be willing to feel their way around this project with me (and I mean it; I’m really just starting to think about how this would go), then feel free to give them my email address. Thank you!!

  6. Hi! I am just getting ready to start teaching at an urban high school in Massachusetts. Many of my students are English language learners. I did a project like this in my special ed school last year, and it was really successful. If you don’t have anyone yet, I’d love to work with you. Just let me know!

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