Friday, January 7, 2011

Sharing Our Learning

Image credit: Silvia Tolisano New Roles for developing empowered learners

Adapted from Alan November (pp.188-193), Curriculum 21 (ASCD, 2010) by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.

At our school, we frequently reference Alan November's "Roles for Empowered Learners." Silvia's recent blog post on Langwitches Blog, "What do you have to lose?" speaks of the importance of educators sharing their work. In it, she references this quote, from Ewan McIntosh: "Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator. It is the work."

We know that students thrive on meaningful work and an authentic audience. We also know that when students reflect on their work, teach others, and use language to describe their process, learning is deepened and reinforced. Does it not stand to reason that students, as well as their teachers, have a strong impetus to share their learning, and to share their learning online specifically,where they have the potential for a wide audience, interaction and feedback?

One of our 2nd grade classes did just that with their blog post, Trading Card Experts. After creating several trading cards, each one the extension of a reading assignment, the students felt that they had developed sufficient expertise to become tutorial designers.

A classroom blog provides an easy forum for students to reflect and share in this way. The process of collaborative writing is extremely rich with opportunities for developing students' skills in both reading and writing. When students are sharing what THEY know, interest is high. Students, proud of their accomplishments, know that this is important writing. They want to get it right.

The wordpress blog provides authentic reinforcement of the writing process.
After starting a new post, we clicked "save draft." When we next worked on that post, we chose "edit post." As students read their writing aloud, they began to understand the importance of hearing how the writing sounds. The revision process came to life as respectful suggestions were made, discussed, and decided upon by group agreement or popular vote. Finally, students gathered together at the SMARTboard, to click "publish."

Learning is sharing and sharing is most definitely learning. No longer do the four walls of a classroom define the learning environment, and no longer do the students work for the "audience of one." Students are engaged in meaningful learning when they share their work publicly as participants in a global community of learners. No longer is the writing process a series of posters on the wall or words repeated by a teacher. No longer does "publish" mean copying over your work in your nicest handwriting using magic marker. Using the classroom blog for reflection and sharing represents one example of the kind of upgrade recommended by Heidi Hayes Jacobs in Curriculum 21.

Here is the original, collaboratively-written post "Trading Card Experts." Since we are in the beginning stages of blogging in the classroom, our 2nd grade blog is not yet open for public commenting. However, the students would very much appreciate any feedback you would like to share with them.

Trading Card Experts

We have made three trading cards in the computer lab. The first one we did was about ourselves. The second one was about what we thought was the strongest element or thing in the world. We read a story called "The Strongest One," and that is how we got the idea to make that trading card. The third trading card we created was about a rescue dog. In our reading book we read a story about rescue dogs.

Now we are experts because we know how to make trading cards very well. It was fun making trading cards. You should make a trading card, too.

How-to Make a Trading Card

Step 1- Go to BigHugeLabs. Scroll down and choose "trading card." (Or you can click on the picture below. We made it a link.)

Step 2- Use a picture that you have saved on your computer. We save ours to the desktop so that we can easily find it. Next click on "choose file" to find your picture and upload it.

Step 3- Click on one of the three choices for where the picture goes "top left, bottom right or center." Then pick your background color.

Step 4- Choose a title for your card. For example, on a trading card about the strongest element, the title might be "Hail." The sub-title would be "The Strongest One." Another example from one of our trading cards is title: "Rescue Dogs" and sub-title: "German Shepherds."

For the description, we wrote adjectives that described our topic, and we also wrote one or two sentences. We pre-wrote our thoughts in our journals before we went to the computer lab.

Step 5-

We did not choose any icons, but you could if you want. Next, press create and you will see your trading card.

Step 6- Then look at your card, and make sure it looks the way you like. Read it over to make sure you don't have any mistakes. If you need to change something, click "edit" to go back. If it is the way you want it to be, click "save" and if you want to print it, click "print."

We hope you have fun making your trading cards. We hope our directions help you. Thank you for reading our blog post. Please leave a comment if you have any questions for us or to tell us about your trading cards.
- by Miss Stein's 2nd graders.


John Russell Smith said...

I agree with the method that they are using to teach the kids by getting them interested on what their topics are. It makes the projects for the kids more enjoyful an they learn better by doin something they enjoy. Setting up visual aid an letting the kids read alound an understand what they are posting makes their reading an writing skills better. This also lets the kids start early in the technology field.

Olivia K Bush said...

I really enjoyed your blog. I think it is great for teachers to share their work and their student's work. It opens doors to new and fresh ideas. I liked the "Trading Card" idea. What a neat way to get a child's mind moving. It was interesting to see how they did this project step by step. I like how it made them use several areas they are studying in school from writing, reading to publishing using the computer and internet. Thank you for sharing this idea.

Mommy Makeover said...

Hi! I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr Stranges EDM310 class. First I love the idea of a class blog and using it for the students as a way to reflect and express themselves through the work being done. Sharing what we learn to help others learn is the foundation of what a teacher is, using online tools is a great way to spread the knowledge! Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoyed the post!