Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This I Believe Goes Global Reflection

We have all the essays and podcasts in for my classes as well as our cooperative classes in Virgina and Qatar for our This I Believe assignment. It has been an interesting in a good way, learning adventure. I am really interested in my students’ reflections about the whole experience. Did they gain any cultural understandings? Did they learn something new or appreciate something they never thought of before? How do their beliefs connect with kids from around the world some of who are not native English speakers?

For my part, I am impressed for the most part by their comments and conscientiousness towards others feelings and beliefs. I remember sitting in Karl’s office thinking, “How are they going to comment on one another’s beliefs without hurting someone’s feelings or coming across as too critical?” And you know what, the kids figured it all out. They talked about what they should do, they communicated with one another what was appropriate, and many ended up reading more essays than the ones they were supposed to .

Did we change the world through this assignment? Probably not, but did the kids get a chance to see how others think and feel? Yes, and in order to change the world, we have to start with a little bit of understanding other’s perspectives. After all, period 2 and 5, doesn’t it all come down to thinking for yourself and appreciating another’s perspective?
Here’s an example of a shift in perspective:

FatimaEmranAmir My comment on Kelsey's essay
Hi! My name is Fatima Emran Amir and I am a ninth grader in Qatar Academy. Personally, when I started reading your essay, I thought that I was going to disagree with your point of view at the end. You may know that I, as a Muslim, believe that dogs are unclean and thus, we are told to keep a little distance from them; not that we hate dogs! Instead, I thought it was a great essay at the end! You really changed my approach towards the fact that how a simple dog can make a special place in your heart and act like a family member. I must say that you have an awful lot of power in your writing! Posted Sunday, 11:13 pm -

KelseyC2012 re: My comment on Kelsey's essay
Hey! I never knew that the Muslim religion believed that about dogs. It seems like such a foreign concept to me. It is really cool to find out these things though. I am glad I could give you another perspective on this animal. Posted Monday, 11:25 am

What did you guys think of the work we did with TIB? What did you learn? What are your take-aways? What would you do differently and keep the same? Be reflective!

30 comments:

robertc2012 said...

This was a really neat project. It's so cool to get feedback on your essay from someone you didn't know before, and also neat to see what other people believe in their essays. It really makes you think how small the world is getting as internet allows us to communicate.

stephaniel2012 said...

I was a little hesitant beginning this assignment, because I knew a hundred thousand things that I could write I believed in. It was hard for me to choose just one. When I had chosen one to write about, I didn't know what to write. It was like when I reached the point where I couldn't write. I didn't know how to convey the importance of my belief in my life. Then, when I was reading other people's essays, I imagined how hard it must have been for other people. But the essays were so powerful. I wished that my words could stand out as much as the others, and that my message was burned into other people's mind as theirs was mine.

This entire assignment gave me a new perspective on things, as every other assignment thus far in this class has. It's because of this class that I've actually been motivated to TRY.

Brianc2012 said...

I really liked this project because it connected peoples writings from all over the world. This essay really helped get people inspired about what's in your heart and that was really fun.

leslieh2012 said...

I thought i was really cool to communicate with students from far away and colaborate on this project. The internet is truly an amazing thing.

It was hard to sort out my beliefs into one organized paper. This was a really interesting project that made me think about what i actually do believe.

PeterH2012 said...

Although this was a great project, the start was the hardest part. With such a general topic, thinking of my most important belief was slightly challenging. After thinking and brainstorming however, the rest came easily.

bradyp2012 said...

This project was was very interesting. It was really hard to get my beliefs onto paper but once i started it became very easy to get values written into an essay. i also thought it was cool to comment on other kids essays and have our essays commented on. It really gave me a different perspective about other people's values.

SydneyR2012 said...

For me, this was an assignment that let me pour out all my pent up emotion I never knew I had. I sat down with my laptop one sunday, and decided to start writing ahead of time. I ended up writing my whole essay that day, and I was surprised how easily the words flowed from me. It wasn't like one of those writing assignments where you sit in front of the word document with the cursor blinking at you, and you just can't think of anything to write. I was lucky to have exactly 500 words (no joke) because I felt that everything I said was an important part of my essay. It really does help to write about emotions, it makes you feel better. I was also proud of myself because even though my essay was not exactly happy, it wasn't an essay that is dark and gloomy and "woe is me." I was glad that the students in Qatar could relate to my essay, it felt cool to have peers all the way across the world go, "Yeah, i know how you feel." This was an enjoyable assignment for me.

bens2012 said...

This project was extremely exotic and new. The idea of actually speaking to children in North Africa is way beyond what I expected from in the beginning of the year. The writting of the essay in itself was a project as well. I would strongly reccomend this experience to anyone who is interested.

annas2012 said...

The This I believe essay was a good idea. I liked how we could connect with people across the ocean about similar topics. The hardest part was thinking of something I truly believed in, something that if it was taken away from me-I would no longer be myself. The writing came a lot easier because I was writing about something that I thought about every day.

katiez2012 said...

This assignments was kind of tuff for me to think of something at first but once I got going it wasn't bad at all. I actually kind of liked it. It was really cool to learn about the kids in the other country and what matters to them over there. It seemed like they mostly wrote about money and family and put alot of ideas about their religion and beliefs into it to. I really like communicating with other classes and kids our age, especially ones far away very different from us. We should do something like this again.

kaelib2012 said...

I thought this assignment was really intersting, I really did gain a lot of cultural experience through it. I got to get a glimpse of how huge religion is in that country, becuase many of the people I read only talked about religion, which is very interesting to me. We all have different religions here in America, and in that country most of them are the same religion, which is an interesting idea.

bridgetL said...

I loved this assignment. I felt like it was a chance for me to write about just about anything I wanted. It is so much easier to write when you can write about something you truly care about, and when there is not specific structure. I could really write with my personality showing through. As for the going global thing, that was my favorite part. I was extremely interested when I read some of the other student's essays from Qatar that were about religion because many of them were Muslim. I am a Christian myself and have not come across anyone who is Muslim that I could talk to. I was able to ask them all sorts of questions about their beliefs. The student's responded happily and even asked me questions back about my beliefs. I feel like I really almost got to know some of the kids. I also got a lot of very encouraging comments on my essay. As a whole, I found it to be an excellent project.

NickM2012 said...

This was a very eye openning experience. Talking to and listening to kids my same age from halfway across the world was amamzing because they can easily relate to what i live like. I learned how small the world is on the phyisical level with the problems we all face, but i also learned how big it is with the religious beliefs. I would definitely be interested in doing something like this again as it is a wonderful way to learn the culture of another part of the world.

carolineb2012 said...

I thought this assignment was a good cultural assignment. If you think about writing an essay about what you believe in is a really personal thing to write about. I could barely have my sister edit mine without being a little shy about it. However, when all of the comments that people put on it were encouraging and intelligent, even if some of the people didn’t agree, it made me think of how human it made us all. Most of the comments were very well put-together and really kind of brought the cultural link together for me. I thought it was a great learning experience and hope we can do something like this in the future.

kinseym2012 said...

This was a really great project. It gave me a chance to see what other people from other cultures think about life. Although I did not always agree with the essays from my own classmates and the essays from the students in Qatar, it was very eye opening. I now have a greater understanding for how others believe, whether its in my own class or around the world. Great project.

alisonr2012 said...

This was an interesting experience. It was kind of tough to comment on the students essays but once I got use to it, it was pretty easy. It was cool to read about the students life. It gave me a whole new perspective on things.

brookem2012 said...

I agree with Sydney. I thought that it was really cool to talk to people all the way across the world and have tehm tell you that they felt the same way about subjects. I guess that it shows that it doesn't matter where a person is, but they'll mostlikely react the same way to something that someone from a whole different culture would. I also think that it was very nice to express one of my deepest feelings to someone that I don't know. I really liked this assignment.

samis2012 said...

When we first started the project, I was a little apprehensive because I had never really thought about my core beliefs that were not related to my religion. When I finally started on a topic I found that I really did not have any personal connections to that topic. So I was then forced to start over. My second topic thankfully, was much easier to write about because I had many personal stories that related to the topic.

I also really enjoyed being able to share our essays with the children in Qatar. It was a creative and constructive way to bring two different cultures together.

lsadler2012 said...

When your in school the usual and tradiotional method is that you are confined to a classroom, in which you learn with your classmates and are taught by one teacher. True, a smooth runinng and productive class has to have consistency, butI think personally I learn best when I'm thrown into something different and I experience new ways. The essay I read was so wise for being written by a girl who was 14 at the most. Her title was lifes equilibrium and I had never heard a perspective from somone across the world. So overall, I loved this assignment!

justinp2012 said...

This was a great project! Not only could we express our beliefs in word form, but we could learn about other people's beliefs across the world. We had to think about what we should write about and it really helped my essay writing too. It was incredible to get feedback from people all the way from Qatar and also that we could have conversations with them. We learned about their culture and I learned many things about their religions (especially Islam, which seemed to be the majority religion). It was great fun and I think others around the world should do this too!

treyjb2012 said...

This was one of the most interesting projects I've ever done. Most of the time I view Islam in a negative way. This is because of the media and how they portray the news from Iraq. It was very interesting to be the real story of the Islamic religion from actual Muslims and not from Western media. This people obviously portrayed their religion as something very guiding and good. It was just cool to get a different more worldly perspective on the Islamic religion.

Megg2012 said...

I really, really liked this learnign expierience. It was really neat to read essays from Qutar, I almost didn't belive I was communicating with someone half-way across the world. As for the assignment, I loved that as well. It was a neat opportunity to discover something about myself,what I personally believe. It was really hard at first, but in the end, I was very proud of my work, and couldn't wait to share it. It was also very fun to podcast it, becasue it was a new and exciting expierience. Over all, I really enjoyed this.

PaulAB2012 said...

When I first heard about this project I got really excited to because we would be communicating in Quatar. I was really worried about writing such an essay for some reason. It seemed really difficult and daunting and I could not think of anything really power or original... Still I kept trying to write one and spent alot of time and eventually I came up with something which I must say I felt was pretty good.
Then came the good part or so I thought. I guess I did not really connect with any of the kids it was mostly niceties. I might as well have been talking to the kid next to me in class. I guess this could be a good thing but i did not view it as such. Also I did not think the essays were that powerful or meaningful. I guess this project did not live up to expectations though it was a good idea... Maybe it just did not click with me for some reason I dont know becuase I tried hard...

hannahg2012 said...

I thought this was a really cool assignment. Writing my essay really made me think hard about why I believe what I do. Getting to connect with other students around the world was a great experience. Having my essay commented by different people other than my classmates was helpful. It helped me see many different opinions and feedback.

johnc2012 said...

Well, I actually enjoyed this project once it was done, but until then it was hard! It took me some serious time to write out and tell what I beleive and why. And with a little introspection I think I did ok

And also, I enjoyed this project because we could read and learn about others beleifs. It helped me learn about not only my class but also others worldwide.

Thanks

John

AustinW2012 said...

I like how this project connected us with people around the world. It made me want everything to be even better than normal because it was published to the web. The other great part is having other high schoolers edit our papers will make our writing that much better.

stellab2012 said...

It's not very often that students are allowed to do an assignment such as TIB where we get to choose our format and topic for writing. This freedom allowed all of us to branch out and really think. It was actually more of a challenge.
When told to write about our beliefs, I made a list of many that I go by everyday. It made me aware of how many I have, personally, and what they really mean to me.
I enjoyed connecting with other students because we're all different and reading about other beliefs gave me a greater perspective about what's out there and how big the world really is.

chelseac2012 said...

It was really cool to read what other students believed in and what some experiences in life were like and how it had impacted them. I enjoyed this assignment, we didn't have many boundaries and it was fun to see what other students thought about.
I also liked how we connected with students outside of our own school; there are few schools out there that get to experience things we do.

Tim said...

Great post.

leahf2012 said...

I had a really hard time with this essay. I felt that if I wrote about just one belief, I would be neglecting all of the others which are equally important. It took me a while to figure out a topic that would encompass every belief. I finally came up with one and I felt it was a little weak. I realized that I needed an extremely strong voice if I wrote about it. I felt I almost accomplished it, but I think it would have been a lot better if I had more time.

I really loved reading essays written by people of my own age all the way from Quatar. The differences in culture and ways of life was really emphasized but I think that our universal beliefs couldn't be more similar. Through the use of the internet, the world really shrinks. I would love to do something similar to this in the future.