Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Students as Teacher and the Reciprocal Nature of Learning

          It's 7:00pm and I just received an email from one of my grade 8 students. She is working at home on her e-portfolio, creating a digital artifact that demonstrates her understanding of the learning outcomes for our short story unit. This is something that I ask students to complete at the culmination of each unit, in addition to their other e-writing submissions. It is a challenging task. It requires that students review the various skills and content that we have covered throughout the unit, create an artifact that is an example of the components that they feel that they have mastered, and then complete a reflection that explains the connection between the artifact(s) and their learning, as well as identify which aspects they feel that they need to continue to work on in future units. I provide a few examples in an attempt to clarify the process, but stress that students are free to include any type of artifact, as long as they can make the connection to their learning.
          In her email, the student wanted to know if she could create and embed a slide show which incorporates a visual of Harry Potter as an example of protagonist, and a youtube video that demonstrates various types of conflict. Several fabulous things about this. One, she took the initiative to email me to clarify an activity. Two, she created something that demonstrates her learning in a creative and unique manner. When I think back to what I was like in grade 8, I'm fairly certain that I was not nearly as mature and involved in my learning.
          This email is yet another example of how much my students teach me on a daily basis. Today,  my students taught me that:
1. Taking a screen shot of an image on an iPad when using Book Creator is much more efficient than copying pictures.
2. Using head phones while recording voices on an iPad allows for greater sound clarity.
3. Some of the best stories are not written down. (One of my students wanted to know if he could use a story that he has been told by a family member as part of our "Adapted Fairy Tale, Myth or Legend" Book Creator activity. He was concerned because he wasn't sure that it was a "real" story if it wasn't from a book.)
4. When provided with some basis skills, teenagers can quite successfully resolve some challenging conflicts.

My focus recently, as team leader of the Sullivan Heights Learning Partners program, has been on how much we can learn from our colleagues. Today, I am taking a moment to marvel and celebrate how much I am constantly learning from my amazingly diverse, talented and sharing students.

English 8 students writing and recording adapted fairy tales, myths and legends using Book Creator App.