With thanks to the AILF and MESA, who are helping with funding, I'm almost ready to launch what I believe will be a major undertaking--we're about a week or two away.
Using Wordpress and Dreamhost, I've set up a blog for migrant students and other English Language Learners to tell their stories. Right now the working title is Lost in Translation, but the students will be able to change that and also change the look and layout of the blog. It's their blog. You can find the blog here, but it will soon change greatly when the students take over.
The funding so far has been used to purchase two Acer Apire One netbooks that the students can use for their writing. These are ultra-portable little laptops (yet the keyboard is 95% the size of a regualr laptop keyboard) that run on Linux and are very easy to use for web applications. Once you hack them a little, it's easy to modify them even more for your student needs, opening access to many open source software packages that are not enabled by default.
So far I have five students committed to this project, and each one of them alone could write a spectacular blog about their lives. I will get more students in time, but I'm also limiting it to students that will be dedicated to the blog. I'm going to try to get more laptops, also, and also revamp some older laptops with Ubuntu.
I envision the blog being about the individual students' lives. They can write what they want to, but the focus is on telling their stories--what matters to them. Each entry will be tagged with their "name", so that a reader can filter out all the blog posts by that particular student and read just their story. Although I do have several prompts, I'm going to let this one evolve on it's own a bit and we'll see what happens. Part of the fun will be watching the data from Google Analytics as more and more readers are found. I'm leaving it up to the students to promote the blog after it's launched.
If you have suggestions or comments, please leave them here, as I will pass them on to the students.