Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Alice Project

"This experience truly was a growing process and the deeper I went, the harder it was, but the more I learned." -Sylvia Atsaves

Teacher Christian Long "challenged 57 students to analyze Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — via their copies of The Annotated Alice — by publishing their questions & reflections in real-time on a very global scale. All student progress was transparently shared with anyone who visited project blogs."

The Alice Project site spells out the specifics of this assignment - vision, expectations, rules and grading - and provids links to the student blogs. More than 35 educators, from around the world, volunteered to be the "jurors" who would evaluate contributions.

Although not officially involved in the Alice Project, I read and responded to some of the blogs and followed Christian's comments about the undertaking on Twitter.

Here are just a few of the bloggers' comments and insights:

Alex C.
"Oh whoa, this is what blogging feels like. This is so exciting."
"I have read a book that I have never read before. It surprised, intrigued, and confused me."

Hagen F.
"Society keeps us in check, but fear drives us to push away the new, odd ideas. Alice herself rejects the smoking caterpillar because she does not know about him. The caterpillar is odd and unknown, and in a different way, she is afraid of him."

Erin M.
"The whole point of Alice’s Adventure is to discover who she is. Often as human being we struggle with our own identity because of the pressure to live up to other peoples standards. Alice did not know who she was."

Miles W.
"The final instance of Alice growing was in jury room. This was another growth, but there was something different about this one… Alice grew this time, but it was because she grew as a person too. Alice saw how irrational everyone in the courtroom was being and challenged them. She rose up (literally) to defeat the irrationality. By beating the King and Queen’s stupid rules and beliefs she became a stronger person."

Jenna K.
"I want to say that the March Hare and Mad Hatter are crazy, because that is what Carroll wants us to believe. But at the same time I want to say that they are not crazy, they just have a different mind-set than the rest of us. I mean what is so crazy about having a watch that only gives the day, and not the hour? That’s just like a calendar if you think about it."

Scott M.
"And what has Alice taken from all this? We don’t know. All we see is her get up and run off to go get tea. Did she learn from it? Does she have more dreams like this one? Does she mature from her experiences?"

Still not convinced of the value of the Alice Project? I'm including Brendon O-L's most recent posting, in its entirety. After reading this, take a moment to reflect on what learning could and should be like for ALL of our students.

Today is the ‘official’ end to the Alice Project, but let’s face it this is not the end. This blog will continue on. All our thoughts and analysis about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are here for everyone to see. No one knows who will stumble upon this site in the future.

This was a very enjoyable experience that I will remember for years to come. We did more than anyone could imagine. We learned with little guidance from our teacher, Mr. Long. We posed our own questions and thought about them ourselves.

We fell down the rabbit hole and chased whatever rabbits we found. We were left to fend for ourselves over the course of this project. We learned how technology can be used to assist us in more ways than one. We learned to write alone and learned the value of feedback.

We found out what happens on the ‘twelfth day’ of school. We start teaching the teacher. We became independent minds with our own voice. Our minds were unleashed upon the wacky world called Wonderland. We were just as helpless as Alice when she first fell down the rabbit hole.

Eventually, we gained confidence and worked til we were at the point that we are at today. We met some wacky characters (aka our classmates) and even got into some intellectual arguments just as Alice did with Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, and the Queen.

This is more heartbreaking than you will ever know, but this is only the beginning.

Who knows what else we can do?

Original woodcuts by Sir John Tenniel. Public domain in the U.S.A.


Carolyn Foote said...

Great quotes you picked out--I'm chuckling because I picked out Brendon's quote in my blog post about the project also. Wasn't that such a great thing to read?

diane said...

Student Voice and student feedback are sadly missing in out educational system. ALL stakeholders need to be involved in shaping policy, especially those most directly affected.