So this 7th grade “Exploring Our Dynamic Earth” blog (with the very appropriate tag line of “Using blogs to learn”) is an interesting example of how RSS can be woven into the work. The front matter is all done by placing feeds from a host of class blogs and a few science news feeds (including a latest earthquake feed) for pretty easy viewing. Click on one of the headline links and it will take you to a specific blog where teachers are posting some pretty thought-provoking assignments and students are engaging in some pretty impressive conversation through the comments.

For example, we’ve got 58 responses to the question “What’s the most dangerous place on Earth?” and if you read through them, you’ll see some real give and take going on. And the writing is pretty audience-centric, as in this snip:

Imagine this: it�s a perfectly normal day, nothing particularly unusual has happened. Everything is going fine until� BAM! OH DEAR LORD, A VOLCANO IS ERUPTING!! EVERYBODY RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! This is what could happen if you lived in Chile…

Or this gentle push back:

johanna, I know 143,000 people died in that Yokohama earthquake. But that�s not because the earthquake was more dangerous. It�s because the CIRCUMSTANCES were different. Maybe there just happened to be a lot of people in Yokohama walking around, underneath buildings! Maybe they didn�t have very much advance notice. THAT DOESN�T MEAN THE EARTHQUAKE WAS MORE DANGEROUS. A 9.5 EARTHQUAKE IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A 8.3 EARTHQUAKE. Also, earthquakes in Japan do occur pretty often� but they�re usually of small magnitude, and so not a lot happens. I�ve done research, and it turns out that BIG earthquakes only occur in Japan every 70 years. The other earthquakes aren�t very dangerous at all. So I would have to disagree with you.

Oh, by the way, the blog is courtesy of teachers and students at the Shanghai American School, Jeff Utecht’s hangout…
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