During the creation of the physical daybooks, students were engaged, and there was an energy around the making. The peer-to-peer interactions were cool to observe. Students were helping each other by showing and demonstrating the steps of creating the books, and there was simultaneous learning and contributing to other students’ learning. Students were sharing a new mutual experience and talking each other through solving the problems of making the books. There was a lot of laughing, talking, playing, making, and sharing by kids who had previously segregated themselves into closed groups. Near the end of that semester, I heard a student say, “We are a family in here.” This process of making books together was a great activity to create a community of learners that would continue to grow and learn together throughout the semester.
While working digitally at BookCrossing.com, I talked with students about their identities in online spaces and how important it was to consider how they portray themselves on open networks. We discussed safety, privacy, and professionalism in their writing, and this process was somewhat of a learning curve as students worked to navigate the BookCrossing platfrom. The relationships and the community that developed in the bookmaking process carried over here, and the students helped one another navigate this new territory. We were all learning this how the site worked together.
While talking about this project with Tar River Writing Project colleague Jenifer Smyth, I mentioned that I would like to see more interaction in the students’ daybooks. We brainstormed together, and this is the graphic she came up with after our discussion. Some really good ideas emerged, and she suggested hosting a release event at the school. We talked about what that would look like, and one idea was inviting community members into the school and having students pitch/talk about their books and encouraging people to write in them. Afterward the students could help community members log entries into the BookCrossing site. We also talked about setting up events in other places like coffee shops and tea houses. The idea is to have computers available for students and community members to use during these release events, promoting community digital literacies. I think there are lots of opporuntities here for more peer-to-peer and cross-generational sharing, and I hope you’ll share your ideas, questions, and ways you might adapt this project for your own context.