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.

The post "Morning Online With 8th Graders" was originally pulled from under moldy cheese at the back of the fridge at CogDogBlog ( on December 21, 2007.


  • Brad Hunstable

    Wow! Great use of our Technology!

    Brad Hunstable
    Founder, Ustream.TV

  • 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

  • Jeff Lebow

    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 :)

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.