Home > Uncategorized > Think-Aloud, ‘Real Blogging’ and Storify

Think-Aloud, ‘Real Blogging’ and Storify

In my reading of education blogs I keep coming back to the work of Will Richardson. One thing that has been a persistent mental irritant with no small measure of dissonance for me is Will’s thoughts on how much of what bloggers do is, in fact, not really blogging. This list of what does/not constitute blogging resonates-

  • Posting assignments. (Not blogging)
  • Journaling, i.e. “This is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
  • Posting links (Not blogging)
  • Links with descriptive annotation, i.e. “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description.)
  • Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging.)
  • Reflective, meta-cognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere.)
  • Links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind. (Real blogging)
  • Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links and comments. (Complex blogging)
  • And as my students begin their work reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” Will’s list kept nagging at me. Then I thought “isn’t a lot ‘real blogging’ just a Think-Aloud?” So in lieu of the usual pre-reading lists and worksheets my students are going to be blogging. Real blogging – but blogging as a Think-Aloud

    Given that mimetics is at the heart of learning I thought that I’d try my own Think-Aloud with a recent article. The article is about how Death Valley is experiencing a rare occurrence – an outbreak of wildflowers

     

    Right away images of the desert spring to mind with the mere mention of the name “Death Valley“. The smell of wildflowers, dry winds, kalediscopic colors all flood the senses, but so do other texts. One I can’t help but think of is the closing monologue of “25th Hour“. While it’s an amazing finish to a so-so film the use of the word “desert” always brings this scene to mind: 

    http://www.youtube.com/v/JPvUAvPUDeU&hl=en&fs=1

    From the opening lines of the article 

    A rare burst of color is softening the stark landscape of Death Valley, with clusters of purple, pink and white wildflowers dotting the black basalt mountainsides and great swaths of golden blooms bordering the blinding white salt flats on the valley floor.

    these connections just come given the idea of flowers springing from land that is otherwise dead. It also recalls T.S. Elliot’s Wasteland and the opening stanza

    APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.

     

    and while this poem connects to the processes at work in the article it also connects to my own experiences with poetry. Elliot‘s Wasteland was one of the first poems that I read and reread in high school. At the time I couldn’t at gunpoint tell you why it was always around me, and even reading an article about wildflowers in Death Valley, the poem still haunts. 
    The article isn’t without moments of confusion though. In all of the amazing descriptions surrounding this phenomenon and all of the flowers listed, I had no idea what a “chia” was. Contextually, it was obviously a wildflower, but I couldn’t even place a color to the flower. 
    The other moment that I had trouble comprhending was the bit concerning the pools of water:

    The recent storms have turned part of the salt pan around Badwater Basin — normally a brackish puddle a few inches deep — into a reflecting pool about five miles across. Kayakers and windsailers cut across the shallow, lifeless water. Other visitors wade in, only to emerge covered in a salt crust.

    This is an engaging description but it’s hard to fathom whether this pool became both deeper and wider, it must have to accomodate the windsailers and kayakers, but if it swelled to being miles across it just doesn’t read correctly. 

    I don’t know how often I’ll come back to this specific article, perhaps only as metaphor. But images and idea of life and color springing forth from the desert is compelling. Especially when the article closes with something so closely connected to T. S. Elliot 

    “This isn’t a wasteland,” Muick said. “It will start looking empty when the flowers are gone, but there’s life there at all times.”

     

    As a bonus here is my first attempt at using the webtool Storify. It’s an interesting service and the features lent themselves well to the requirements of a Think-Aloud. 

     

     

     


     

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