The "Alice Project"

A 10th Grade Honors English Tour of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Juror Comments January 18, 2010

Below is a sampling of what various jurors said about each of the 13 blogs specifically and a few general observations along the way:

***

Blog 13:

Congratulations on a splendid achievement. As individuals and as a team, you explored Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland more deeply and differently than most students (and adults) will ever have the opportunity to do. That’s equally true for those of us watching and chiming in from the outside as jurists, commenters, and co-learners. We should all pay close attention to the uniqueness of what happened in the Alice Project. I’m honored to have the opportunity to play a part in your learning, and to discover how your Alice Project work will influence my own practice as an educator.”

Blog 12:

“I loved this groups work. The conversational tone of the blog made it very easy to read and to clearly identify the points that the students were trying to make. I liked the way that points were ‘discussed’ as if the reader was being consulted on the points as they were raised. Although I have cited the Wordle post as noteworthy, I also think it was not clear what was being looked at as you would find NO ‘esperanto’ words in text written in English, so I didn’t understand what the point of that part of the post was all about. Still the very fact that a Wordle analysis of the text was carried out makes it noteworthy in the first place. Well done!”

Blog 11:

I’ll borrow Darcy’s delightful notion of Alice Experience Points as a hook, a handy way to frame your work on this project over the past few weeks. Reading and reflecting on your posts rearranged some of my own thinking about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, about how critical, active readership functions with a text in which meaning is so elusive. My own AEPs [Alice Experience Points] surely tripled.”

Blog 10:

In the posts that I noted as my favorites, I was impressed by the level of questions that this group was willing to ask themselves. I think that you all really seemed to want the story stand up to modern society. I recognized many comparisons to your own life and you really tried to make Alice’s story come alive within your own experiences, and this really allowed you to dig deeper into the story. I think that each group member seemed to have a few exceptional posts, but I think that Brendon and Rachel had a way of working with language that made their posts vivid and thought provoking. As for some of the other posts, I think that there was a tendency to simply want to finish them for the sake of the assignment (especially near the end). In the other group I helped to rate (Team #2), they provided summary posts that tied the conversation together. There was also a lot more commenting back and forth between the members of the group. I think that helped to show the research and depth of argument.”

Blog 9:

Thanks for your hard work and your commitment to such a unique and new undertaking! I found it immensely interesting to read your blog from start to finish with the goal of seeing how the overall blog as well as your individual voices developed. Although the blog felt rather disjointed for me (you started off feeling like a team, but then I seemed to find you all going off on your own), your Cover It Live Session #3 showed me your collective voices and some good analysis. Individually, you each seemed to grow and contribute something unique:”

Blog 8:

There were some really fascinating posts on this blog! At several points in time, I got that “a-ha!” moment in my head when something just clicked and made sense to me. It’s made me want to re-read the book again myself!! It really showed that you put a lot of thought into the book — and that your discussions with each other, use of CoverItLive, and reading other blogs got you thinking about other new and different ideas. I hope it was fun for you to write on a platform like this!  Some of my favorite posts were the most recent ones that used video and images. One of the coolest things about blogs is that you can easily integrate those other “media” into the story you’re trying to tell, or the point you’re trying to make. So, I congratulate you on trying to use those — and I also wished you had tried it more often!”

Blog 7:

As you’ve undoubtedly learned there’s a subtle art to blogging that differentiates it from writing. You have the opportunity to incorporate multimedia and hypertext for your audience (impossible in a research paper), and I think your group did that particularly well. (Slightly off-topic: hypertext is a 21st century rabbithole! Don’t believe me? Read an article on Wikipedia and click a link that interests you. Then click a link on that page, and so on, and so forth – let me know how far from your original topic you end up).  I found many of your analyses were more like summaries – good to have, especially for your audience members who don’t have a strong background in the original text (like me), but dig a little further to get down that rabbithole – pick out specific examples of dialogue or narration from the story and examine something interesting about an idea a character expresses, or the way one phrases his/her thoughts. That said, your writing overall was impressive; had I not known from the outset, I never would have guessed you folks were HS sophomores.”

Blog 6:

I was impressed with the reflective style that many of these posts took on. Like another juror mentioned this group was especially inquisitive and had more questions than answers. Without being in your classroom, I would assume that this is designed, it is a skill that when developed triggers a passion and pursuit of reading and the Arts. I would have liked to see more depth in the characters, specifically the Mad Hatter, as I believe that role/character is a primary factor in much of what goes on in this story, just less obviously. I would also like to add, that Kristin did a great job of summing up her own posts when she created the poll around where did they focus most of their attention. I noticed that there tended to be a focus on Carroll himself, which isn’t a bad thing, but a keen observation and self reflection on her part.”

Blog 5:

Reading through the posts from beginning to end gave me some idea about how your thoughts have evolved as you delved further into the book. I really enjoyed how the team sought how to interpret the storyline from an 1850s perspective as well as stacking things up against your own experiences and ideas. The comments were well thought out and generally sought to clarify or challenge the writer without ever being disrespectful – that all helps to build a productive learning community. I might even go and read the book myself now! I will note that if I do so, I will refrain from any over analysis until I have completed the book for its own sake. Your blog certainly analyses your own analysis – reflective learning at its best.”

Blog 4:

I am in awe of the deep reflection, profound insights and new understandings derived from your work on this project. Beginning with the pre-assessment where you shared your thoughts on the book and the upcoming project, to your original posts and subsequent responses to each others’ work, you have dug deeper than I ever did in high school or college for that matter. The high level of discourse was incredible; your observations caused me to stop more than once to consider a perspective I hadn’t thought about prior to reading the post. I was particularly intrigued by your comparisons of Disney vs. Carroll and Alice in Wonderland vs. Lord of the Flies; deeply astute and thought-provoking. When looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy, it is obvious that you spent the majority of your time inhabiting the upper levels of the taxonomy. (Analyzing, evaluating and creating.)”

Blog 3:

I really liked that these blogs sound real – not like casual conversation, but real writing worthy of reading. I think the students shared both the process of their reflection on Alice and the product (their thoughts about the book). This is not a trivial feat, and I think this is the part that elevates it beyond what I would expect from 10th grade writing. It’s very difficult to come up with something new to say about a book that has so much analysis already done. Over analyzing something can quickly turn to absurdity and you start to wonder if Lewis Carroll could have possibly stuffed this story with so much intentional allegory and allusions. Nice job coming up with new things to say and comparing and contrasting it with current adaptations. For the future, try to remember that not everyone reading your writing shares your context. Even if a band or piece of music is very familiar to you, it may not be to your audience. It’s never a bad idea to explain what it was that caused you to connect the subject to the song or artist, and why.”

Blog 2:

At first (this reaction is documented on Twitter in case you don’t believe me), I was blown away by the sophistication of the analysis and writing of the students. I could not believe that these were high school students writing these amazingly insightful and meaningful posts about a very complex text. Once I got over my amazement and dove into the posts by Team #2, I found myself learning along with the students. [Confession: I don’t know that I’ve ever read Alice in Wonderland from beginning to end] One could read through the posts, as I did, and get a real sense of the storyline and the narrative without reading Alice. The students are transparent about their own growth and development throughout the project and that sort of honesty makes this whole project a truly authentic learning experience.”

Blog 1:

I am amazed by your questions, insights, and articulateness of concepts. You got me interested in reading the Annotated version of Alice, and it sits waiting in my Amazon wish list! I was completely caught up in all your posts. Initially, I tried to skim through them due to the amount of reading. I was unable to. You hooked me with your reflections, and I found myself dwelling on your questions and insights throughout my day. This was a truly enjoyable experience for me. Thank you.”

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