Over the past few days, I've been explaining to the kids how most of their work will be published online for a real, worldwide audience. I introduced the Teen Lit Review and our accompanying Twitter handle (@teenlitreview) so that kids can see examples of students' work online. I told them about TLR Radio, our weekly podcast about YA Lit (available on iTunes). During our talk about the importance of getting their work outside of the school walls, they took over the conversation. "What about a magazine?" "Do we have a team theme song?" "I could write a soap opera!" "A line of clothes!" "We could do animation." Kids shouted all kinds of ideas that came to mind. It was awesome! All it took was a little push, or "permission" to think of expanding our footprint, and they were off to the races. They were pumped!
I didn't have to do anything. They bounced ideas off of each other and built one idea on top of another. The magazine idea evolved into an online magazine using Flipboard. The show idea became a segment on the school's "This Week at Hixson" Friday morning show. The kids who wanted to do animation will contribute to the Flipboard magazine and also have a stop-motion animation channel on YouTube.
We'll see how these ideas evolve. Some will probably succeed and some will probably fail. There is a greater chance of the kids following through because they were the kids' ideas and they are very excited about them. We know from doing so much personalized learning in class that the fuel for the follow-through has to be ownership of the idea. The kids do indeed own these ideas. I will encourage them but I cannot push them too hard. The execution has to be on them. I can cheerlead, guide, help and match kids to resources, but I cannot take over the idea. My role is to inspire.