Last Wednesday, November 14th, we were once again provided with the opportunity to engage thousands of students with a morning of hockey and literacy based activities.

Like last year, we utilized the Bulldogs Literacy Blog for students to respond to writing prompts based on this year’s associated book “The Greatest Goal” by Mike Leonetti, and other hockey related questions. Beyond that, many students joined in and offered their words of excitement in anticipation of the event. The students were also extremely excited to have Hamilton Bulldogs player Kyle Hagel (@kylehagel) engage in conversations with them on the blog (see “2012 Bulldogs School Game – What would you ask a Bulldogs player?“)

Bulldogs Reflections with Kyle Hagel

Bulldogs Reflections with Kyle Hagel

This is one of the most powerful abilities and features of using a blog platform. Rather than student communicating only with each other and their teachers within the confines of a brick and mortar classroom, students can now connect globally beyond their walls and connect authentically with others – such as a player from the Hamilton Bulldogs. This experience provided the students with a neat opportunity to connect to the game, get excited by communicating 1-on-1 with an actual player, and write for an authentic audience.

This was also an amazing opportunity for students to see hockey players beyond the sport. I particularly love how Amy started a reflection piece based on a component of the book and Kyle modelled a great response by starting with his own reflection. He also re-read his post later and posted another correcting some of the grammatical issues he had noticed. This was amazing modelling for the students in regards to proofreading and revision (see “I will try my best…”).

Bulldogs Reflections - Modelling Writing

Kyle Hagel Models the Writing Process.

What was also amazing is that we were also able to get the players to read “The Greatest Goal” for the students on video which was embedded on the blog as well. Many students replied directly to the players below the videos. Not only does this provide an engaging experience to the students (having the players read it to them versus their teacher), but also helped show the players as readers and not just athletes.

Click here to see this year’s and last year’s Bulldogs Readings.

Bulldogs Jersey Avatar

Bulldogs Jersey Avatar

Last year, we were also able to have the Doppleme developers create a Hamilton Bulldogs jersey to make available to our students. We promoted this avatar-wear and requested that students and teachers put it on in support of the event. The learning community that we use, HWDSB Commons, enables students to grow and connect in a virtual environment. Much like a physical learning environment, the students have an identity, a style, and a footprint. We block Facebook, as many boards do, so this learning environments provides teachers with an authentic space to mentor and guide students as they learn how to communicate online, how their comments and interactions reflect upon them and others, and how to be good collaborate and responsible digital citizens.

As in the real world, people often show support and solidarity by wearing shirts. The ability to have a jersey for their avatars provides a virtual extension to their physical selves and a chance to connect with other students both at their own school and at others from various corners of the board.

Change Avatar Bulldogs

Select Jersey Bulldogs

Another new component of the Bulldogs Literacy blog activities this year was the logo contest. Last year, I whipped up a quick banner for the site but always really envisioned it as being student created. So, this year we held a contest for students to create a logo and/or banner for the site. Information on the Logo Contest can be found HERE.

The winner proudly posted her banner herself to the Commons and wrote a piece to accompany her entry:

Winning Banner

Students that participated in all of the blog activities were entered into a contest (randomly selected) to win a number of cool prize packages: ability to drop the puck at the game, high-fiving the players as they came onto the ice, participating in spelling events with mascot, Bruiser (and receiving a school visit from him), and interviewing a Kyle Hagel at the winner’s school….

One other thing that we did new this year was utilize Twitter. We had huge success with Twitter at the Director’s Student Voice Forum so we did the same for this event with the hashtag #bulldogsliteracy. It was amazing to see teachers, consultants, superintendents, parents, and community members get involved with the hashtag by following and participating. What resulted is a dynamic digest of rht day from start to finish and a wonderful companion to the blog itself, which was also populated during the event as a live news feed. The Twitter feed as digested by @Storify is posted below and can also be accessed HERE.

CBC Hamilton and The Hamilton Spectator wrote about the event:

Crowd roars for the Hamilton Bulldogs at school day game (CBC Hamilton)

Dogs’ ‘Most Loyal Fans’ Offer Ear-Splitting Support (Hamilton Spectator)

Before signing out this time around, and before embedding the Twitter feed, I would be remiss not to highlight this video of 10,649 screaming kids doing the giddy-up dance to PSY’s Gangham Style. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve seen this….