Smith's Ninth Grade Blog

Monday, September 25, 2006

This I Believe

Last year a colleague had me listen to a segment on National Public Radio called "This I Believe". After hearing and reading some of the submissions as well as researching the history behind the segment, I was intrigued. I wanted to challenge my students to submit their own essays to NPR spending time writing rough drafts, editing, peer editing, parent editing, and then finally submitting their polished draft to the station. I thought, how powerful for one of them to have their work published nationally. How powerful for all of them to know that their voices matter.

I told the class my goals for the assignment and had them listen and read a few examples. After the class listened to some, THEY decided they would like to podcast their own essays so they could be heard on the web just like those on NPR. What an amazing idea! These kids wanted to not just complete an assignment, but to share the things they believed in with the world. They wanted to be in-charge of letting others hear what is important to them, what mattered to them.

Over the next week, students will be recording their "This I Believe" essays and we’ll add them to this post. At first there might be only a couple, but I encourage you to check back and listen to what matters to them...what is it they believe in? Feel free to leave constructive feedback for them, but please keep in mind that this is their first try as well as their teacher's.

Note: Click and drag on the scroll bar in the player below to see all the podcasts. It only displays eight at a time, but there are more if you scroll. You can't click above or below the scroll bar to move it up or down, you must click and drag on the scroll bar itself.

Update: Apparently the flash player from Odeo only displays the most recent 20 audio files in a podcast. We have 21, so Zoey's (which was the first one uploaded) was no longer showing. So we'll just add Zoey's down here by itself as a workaround for now (and to honor her for being the first one to get hers turned in!)

powered by ODEO


At September 28, 2006 4:26 PM, Blogger Paul Wilkinson said...

Wow. These are fantastic people. Thank you for sharing your ideas. Sarah we agree that friends are so important and your final statement about being a friend to have friends is very true. Phil you attack the US government with gusto. I'm in NZ and the US administration doesn't have a great profile from our side of the world. But what are the solutions? It is ok to feel passionate about injustice but I encourage you to put the same energy into thinking about some solutions. Zoe your piece made me stop and think about the assumptions I have about children growing up in two parent families vs parents who are separated. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Keep up the great work people this is brilliant.

Paul (and Georgia)

At October 02, 2006 4:02 PM, Blogger sarahc said...

John M. I really liked your views on how the founding fathers and Christopher Columbus were led by God to do the things they did.

I agree with you Phil on the view that the government uses fear to control us. But I don't think that everyone if afraid of the government. Look at everyone who uses the media to fight back against the government.
I also agree with you that the government does blame everything on everyone else. I think that our generation should pick leaders who are not afraid to take the blame. I also think that it is partly the citizens' fault that the government doesn't tell us things. If the gov. tells us they made a mistake, most people see that as weakness, and the gov. doesn't want to be weak, and we don't want a weak gov. I think that if we start viewing the gov. as many seperate, imperfect human beings, that we will start to get a better perspective on the gov. and their actions. I also think that if we do this, that the gov. will start taking the blame for errors.

At October 02, 2006 4:32 PM, Blogger lauraf said...

I have not been able to hear any of the podcasts...has anyone else had this problem and fixed it? if so, any hints to be able to make it work?

At October 02, 2006 5:10 PM, Blogger Zachf said...

Joe hit the nail on the head with what he was saying. If you are not competitive in life how do you expect to overcome adversity and really get what you want? Great ideas here.
Lyndsey had some really deep stuff on here, family is really important. I'm glad that this podcast allows us to here the emotions of people instead of just reading it on a piece of paper. I think being able to hear Lyndseys' emotions on here really did something for this piece.

At October 02, 2006 7:48 PM, Blogger BenH said...

kerin: I thought that yours was really great, and I agree. Very well done, and an intersting story.

philh: Excellent point. I agree with you, and your point about fear is excellent. Fear is a powerful tool of persuasion.

zoey: smith played us yours in class. I thought that you did a very good job, and the way worded your essay was very good. And you used very good inflection. It reminded me of the actual essays I hear on NPR.

And everyone else, great job. I thought they were all great and the quality of work was in general very good.

At October 02, 2006 8:24 PM, Blogger maria k said...

Wow! What an awesome way to share writing! I really like how each writer was able to read and share their emotion instead of leaving the reader to figure it out on their own.

Kyle S.~ Nice writing and voice throughout your piece. I like your strong examples and I especially liked the opening grabber sentance.

Zoe Y.~ Great metaphors! I love how you used salt and pepper as examples and how you said they "seasoned" your life. Great strong analogies!

Nice work everyone!!!

At October 02, 2006 8:52 PM, Blogger TyC said...

I think that I can relate to Quinn B with his situation of balancing play with work. If I work too much, then I get stressed and bored with my life because I never have time for anything but work. On the other hand, if I play for too long, I end up having a hard time focusing on my work. I have found out that if I do something different and fun for a little while every day, I can still focus in my work when I do it, but I also feel like I have had a full day.

All of these podcasts are very cool, and it seems like all of these students put a lot of work and effort into their pieces. Keep up the good work guys!

At October 02, 2006 10:44 PM, Blogger hannahs said...

Wow! I really enjoyed listening to your podcasts. Cole H, I thought the begining of your essay was amazing. Phil H, I was amazed at how well your voice expressed your ideas. Listening to the anger and truth in your voice really compliments your writing Also, the fact that you chose the government as your topic illustrates how informed and mature you are. Conner F, the begining of your essay drew me in and was awesome. Deirdre C, the focuse of your writing was clear from the very beginging which was great. Well done everyone!

At October 10, 2006 4:07 PM, Blogger EmilyL said...

I am very impressed with your essays. Garrett, your essay was well thought out. Ashleigh, your word choice is awesome.
Rich, the focus was clear from the beginning. Jordan, you had great attention getter. Sarah, you have a way with words especially similes. David, your essay made me consider just how much public service officers like firefighters and police men do for us..
Everyone did a wonderful job and these essays really show maturity and emotion.

At November 12, 2006 11:11 AM, Blogger hannahs said...

I came back to your essays and listened to a few more and like I said before, wow.
KyleS-what you believe in is amazing. It was so philisophical and intellectual. Very nice job!

ZoeY- I love your metaphors, they really add to your essay.

At December 08, 2006 1:37 PM, Blogger Jim Gates said...

I'm so impressed that there are so many well spoken and thoughtful students all in one district. I enjoyed each and everyone of these. From the discussions about the meaning of friendship, to David's "Never Forget", to Lyndseys' touching memo to her pappa (?), to Kyle's search for the meaning of life (it's 42, by the way. Ask you teacher), and to Cole's work ethic. Loved 'em all.

Congratulations on the fine work.

Oh, and Kyle, have you seen this: Power of Ten

At July 08, 2008 3:39 PM, Blogger The Literacy Studio said...

These are incredible! I'm a high school English teacher in New York, and I am impressed with your thoughts and the way that you are sharing them with the world. Thank you for inspiring us.

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