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May 13th, 2016

Teaching Blogging at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School


Earlier this week I was invited to speak about blogging to the seventh grade at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS) in Forest Hills.

According to the school’s website:

The school follows the Expeditionary Learning model (, in which students engage in learning expeditions and have multiple opportunities for hands-on learning, both inside and outside of the classroom. Students participate in fieldwork with civic leaders, industry figures, and environmental scientists to examine agriculture, architecture, city infrastructure, design, environmental policy, law, and planning. 

Talking to seventh graders. I must admit I was terrified. How was I going to make this subject scintillating to bunch of 12-year-olds? Turns out I had nothing to worry about. The kids at MELS are really smart, cool and engaged. They are also embarking on a really interesting project that involves blogging. And sacrifice.

For the next few weeks, every one in the seventh grade is giving up one thing for the environment. Some kids are giving up meat or dairy. Some are going vegan. Some are giving up plastic bags or air conditioning. Some are going to walk rather than use cars or public transportation. And they’re going to blog about the experience every day.

The kids seemed really psyched about their sacrifice and very receptive to what I had to say. I was happy to fill them in on what they needed to know.

Their teacher, Mica Fidler, asked me to give the kids a brief history of blogging. I told them about the early days of hyper-local blogging in Brooklyn. I talked about the Brooklyn Blogfest. I told them about Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. The kids were really interested in why I started the blog, what I hoped to accomplish, the challenges, how I monetized the blog, and how I dealt with negative comments.

We also talked about writing for a blog and the importance of voice. I told them the most important thing is that spelling and grammar matter. There’s nothing worse than having a spelling error pointed out to you by one of your readers. That said, it’s really helpful because if you’re like me and terrible about proofreading your own writing, it’s great that someone else is catching the mistakes.

All in all, it was a great day at MELS and a satisfying one for me. As I said to the kids, “What you do with  your blog can enhance your life and change the world.”

Posted in Civics and Urban Life | Comments Off on Teaching Blogging at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School