Last Wednesday, Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine hosted the first week of the #cyberPD title: Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age. Jill Fisch hosts today’s discussion of chapters three and four on her blog, My Primary Passion. Stop by her blog to link your posts for today's reflection or just visit to see what all the excitement is about! Thanks Jill!
Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate will host next week.
Chapter three – The Student As Scribe
Important words: The student scribe work represents low-hanging fruit for educators and students alike. I like that the book helps educators who need easy-to-use ideas in order to implement these new ideas into classrooms.
As I described last week, in the school where I work, each student studies an individually chosen topic. At first, I thought this job as scribe would be a challenge to see how it could work. But there are aspects of the curriculum that do involve the entire class. Everyone begins on Monday with individual agendas of expectations where students make goals for the week. This involves conferences with the teacher not only about the unit topic, but also group goals for writing and other assignments for the class. Each week students also choose personal reading goals, sketch in field journals, meet with writing groups for different purposes, etc. They are expected to map out their goals and the time working in class along with when they’ll do homework. All goals are to be met by the following Monday. I think the job as scribe could post the week’s agenda and students could respond personally each day, explaining what was going on that week in the class. As the weeks pass, The job as scribe would aid students in becoming more reflective about their work, as well as improving the ability to explain to others what’s happening.
Also, students could take turns showing their current individual research projects—how they are doing, what’s worked, and what’s been frustrating. Sharing with a wider audience could result in connecting to someone expert in the topic, or someone who just enjoys the kind of work that they are doing.
And, I loved the idea that those who are often quiet in the classroom will have a chance to share their ideas in another way. The story on page 42 of a new student who had a different way to ‘shine’ is a great point.
One final thought is that this kind of sharing can be much more interesting to parents than the usual newsletter from the teacher.
Chapter four – The Student As Researcher
Important words: One of the most astonishing gaps in many students’ educations is their inability to validate information on the Internet. I believe our school does well in the teaching of the ‘how-to’ of research online. As the Internet became more and more important in the past years, we realized that more deliberate teaching had to be done to help students research topics thoroughly, accurately and safely. Yet, this one line on page 51 gave me pause, and I will bring up the topic with my staff this fall. Are we doing enough?
Students also needed to know more about crafting good questions, how to research for deeper answers as the topics and questions became more complicated, and how to find the resources. Our librarians work hard to keep up with print resources and online article services for the myriad of topics chosen. I am so excited about the possibility of at least the older students creating their own search engines via Google. And if we decide to open up the learning this way to the wider world, people will be able to comment with new ideas and resources for topic research. Another added bonus could be as a literacy resource person I could create my own research engines for both students and teachers, depending on the resources needed. With younger students, teachers may want to create class search engines which narrow their fields for inquiry so it won’t be so overwhelming. My mind is whirling with the possibilities.