Monday, November 24, 2008

Learn Something. Pass It On.

I heard a story on NPR this morning that this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving here in the U.S., is dubbed the National Day of Listening. They are hoping people sit down and talk with a loved one, part of their StoryCorp project. From the National Day of Listening site:

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.
In the NPR story, Steve Inskeep (NPR Morning Edition host) talks with his mother. It’s an interesting conversation and I particularly like how it closes:

Maybe I got my desire from [my parents]. The desire to learn something, and pass it on.
That’s a pretty good description of why I blog.

Consider participating on Friday, and ask your students to do so as well. You might learn something. If you do, pass it on.


  1. Wow. It was nice to have this one come across on Twitter. I scribbled similar sentiments just two days ago on my last post. So let me just say, I agree with this idea VERY much. It felt quite timely. Allow me to connect to this post with a wish from my last one...

    I wish listening were a universal skill. Not “letting someone else talk,” not “allowing someone to state their opinion,” but listening. Really listening. How about that one, folks? How about we all decide as a group from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top… from the students to the teachers and the teachers to the administrators… how about we focus on listening? The valuable practice of listening to other people is not “wait time.” Think about it, and get back to me. I wonder if we can find a book published by ASCD, worthy of a book study, sailing along by the succinct title: “Listening: No subtitle- because it just doesn’t need one.

    I especially love the fact that you essentially described "why you blog" as being a listening thing. That is saying something. Listening and sharing.

    I just talked with a comm. arts colleague of mine not 30 minutes ago, and she happened to remark about how she went to a workshop (or some event) of yours at NCTE... and that really, instead of you talking, it was more of you empowering a couple of others to do the main presentation.

    She was impressed. And since I pointed her to this blog back in about June, she was pretty excited to tell me that.


  2. Karl, I too listened to this piece of NPR. Wasn't that interview with his mother so touching? I am going to have a visit with my mom and record it. What a treasure! I will urge my kids to do the same. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Excellent thoughts on blogging - I just started, but more for the selfish end of learning... Maybe someday I will have some wisdom to give back!

  4. One of my most valuable possessions is a video my aunt made in which she simply asked my 95-year-old grandmother to "tell her story." I also enjoyed listening to "Karl's Story" and "Anne's Story" at NCTE; even though I know both of them quite well, there are many significant apsects I never knew about them and never would have thought to ask if I hadn't had the opportunity to simply sit and listen.

    In English, we sometimes value telling our own stories more highly than listening to others...this is a lovely reminder. Thank you for sharing.

    To "Nashworld"--I was one of the lucky "others" that got to speak at NCTE instead of Karl, and I very much appreciated your comment. Before we started presenting, I panicked slightly that when the audience realized that Anne and I were the ones doing all the talking, they would start pounding their fists on the tables and chanting, "Karl! Karl! Karl!" But instead they were wonderfully receptive.

  5. If I don't respond, I'll never hear the end of it from Sean (nashword as the rest of the blogging community knows him). I am that communication arts teacher who so enjoyed your presentation at the NCTE convention, soaking in every word and taking copious notes to make certain I didn't miss anything I might want to share with the middle and high school teachers I lead in my district.

    I've been fortunate this year to attend both the ISTE conference in June and the NCTE conference in November in beautiful San Antonio. But along with enjoying dinner along the Riverwalk, I also learned so very much each time about using technology as a best practice in CA instruction. As I use a wiki and a class Shelfari account with my students as well as incorporating various digital and online tools, I'm amazed but not surprised at how quickly students grab onto those things. They are the world in which today's students live.

    Each fall I find I must take some time with my students to come to an understanding of what it means to "read" in our classroom. Most students still equate that with sounding out letters to make words and stringing words together to make sentences. We work together to understanding that reading is about thinking, connecting, drawing conclusions, asking questions and so much more and that we can "read" a visual such as a picture or a video clip just as we can read an article, a short story, or an excerpt from a novel.

    I do the same regarding listening and hearing. Many of my students think that if they hear my voice -- and maybe pick up on a few of the words coming from my mouth, they are listening to me. Oh, my. We work hard to come to an understanding of what it means to listen to one another and why that is important. Now I realize I must also include that component of listening that is about what we do with what we absorb, the results of our processing of that information. I'm hoping that perhaps seeing the blogging on our wiki as a part of listening to each other, students will value that more and think, respond and write more deeply.

  6. @nashworld - I don't know that it was so much "empowering" as simply getting out of their way. Kristin and Anne are very, very good at what they do.

    @Tori - I'm glad you came to Anne and Kristin's presentation and that you found it worthwhile.

    Those are some important ideas about reading, writing and thinking - and truly listening. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. one thing i have learned... when you work with good people, empowering is often simply: "getting out of the way."

    i couldn't agree more.

    and tori- thanks.
    i just think it is so important that in any path down the read/write web, we don't forget to 'write' when it matters.

    tori spilled to me how good the workshop was... and so i told her... you are a huge sissy if you don't post that tonight. ;-)