Students go beyond classroom with blogs

Freshmen have real audience

Students often write papers that are only read by their English teachers.  But Civic Memorial English teacher Jake Carlson knows writing can only make an impact when it reaches an audience. And with the internet, this is something easily accomplished. So Carlson decided to give his freshmen honors a more authentic writing experience through blogging with the 20Time Project.

The students have created blogs about a product, service, or event that addresses a community need. The 20Time Project is a national project designed to give students a more authentic learning experience with “autonomy, mastery, and purpose,” according to the 20Time Project website at  The project sprung from a book called Drive by Daniel Pink that addresses innovation.

Wyatt Cooper is a freshmen writing a blog called “How to Adult.” It’s about life for young adults after they leaving their parents’ basement. Cooper got the idea when his brother graduated from high school and prepared to leave for college.

This is a stressful project for many students, Carlson said. “I want them to learn things take hard work,” he said.

Blogger Winny Liu echoed Carlson’s sentiments.  “This is hard work because students are learning how to balance school work and other activities,” she said.

Liu works with Gavin Witsken and Austin Prindable on their blog—a graphic novel based around a girl with a mental disorder.

Liu said, “I am passionate about mental disorders cause I see it all around me. Our goal is to show what’s it like for people who have these problems.”

The students have interviewed people they know who have mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and social anxiety.

Jaden Devino, Abigail Ottwell, and Mark Eldridge are blogging on a little known problem: mutism. This is a disorder or result of an underlying condition that limits speaking capabilities.

The three students go out into the world and try to do things without talking.  They write about their experiences on their blog.

“Going to school, ordering dinner, asking for help are all things that are easy to us but aren’t for those who can’t speak,” said Devino. “Because of our experiments we know how difficult it is to live a normal life.”

Students will be doing this blog until April, when they will be giving a presentation in class about their experience with blogging.

“Students are doing well and this is a good opportunity to (learn to deal with) success and failure,” Carlson said. He said he just wanted his students to play around with it, and that if they failed it would be okay.  They can just try again and not be afraid of failure. Carlson plans on doing this project again next year.

The student blogs can be accessed on Carlson’s Weebly page, which is on the Civic Memorial website under the link “Teacher Websites by Department.”

(Note: Some information and quotes for this story are from previous interviews done by students Alexis Enke, Monica Baker, Samantha Scheffel, and Corinna Jones for an assignment in Christiann Wiest’s journalism class. The Eaglet would like to thank them for their contribution.)