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Morning Online With 8th Graders

Morning With 8th Graders
Morning With 8th Graders
posted 21 Dec ’07, 11.56am MST PST on flickr

I got an invite yesterday to join in on a WorldBridges session with 8th grade students of Lee Baber (Western part of Virginia), Paul Allison (New York City), and Madeline ? (also new York) in completely chaotic, open discussion about "the future of school"

Jeff Lebow coordinate the magic on WorldBridges between a live uStream from Lee’s class, from me at my home office in Arizona, and on Skype audio with the others.

It sure is not the 8th grade I experienced, and I am glad to see how much has changed. These are some motivated kids.

I’m not sure I did much here beyond tossing out some questions– 8th grade student energy, if harnessed, could likely lessen our dependence forever on fossil fuel ;-)

What I learned by listening:

* Teachers make the difference to these students
* Use of technology is important
* They are incredibly curious about each other
* They acknowledge the potential for virtual schools, but relish the social aspects of being together
* They are interested in more flexible timing for going to school (one young woman wanted night school ;-)
* They want to know more about the world outside of their own
* they bond over common online interests- from the Bronx to a rural community in Virginia, they shared a common world (Runescape)
* For a number of them, doing things “outside” e.g. not on a computer, are very important
* They are seriously worried about the future, global warming
* They have no problem with dealing in these chaotic, loosely structured conversations and places

The future looks rather bright indeed.

Thanks Lee, for letting me hang out.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. thanks for sharing this experience Alan – I love how your first observation is that “Teachers make the difference to these students”.

    Do you think that being a teacher is a ‘privilege’?

    So many parents say “my son/daughter did so well/not so well in that teacher’s class”.

    I ponder than about how can we improve our teacher training/professional development to ensure every teacher DOES make the difference!

    Allison, Adelaide

  2. The recording of this conversation is at:

    I too was struck by the importance students placed on having good teachers and including the social component in any future school, virtual or otherwise. I also thought their suggestion of starting school later in the day was a good one. The world would be a better place if everyone got a little more sleep… assuming the later start time wasn’t offset by staying up late playing Runescape :)

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