I always look forward to reading the new issue of Educational Leadership and the theme of this issue is ‘Giving Students Ownership of Learning’. I love that theme! It is full of relevant articles. I shouted out with delight to see Will as one of the authors in this issue. It is so appropriate to see Will’s article “Footprints in the Digital Age” in this outstanding issue. It is online and available for you to read. I’m so glad he ended up in this particular theme as he has been advocating giving students ownership of learning for some time now and continues to fight the battle, day in and day out. Will talks about the importance of self-directed learners being adept at building and sustaining networks. He gives five ideas that will help you begin to build your own personal learning network. He calls and has continued to call for this shift that requires us to foster the development of engaged learners and to rethink the roles of schools and educators. He issues this challenge: “More than ever before, students have the potential to own their own learning- and we have to help them seize that potential. We must help them learn how to identify their passions; build connections to others who share those passions; and communicate, collaorate, and work collectively with these networks. You need to forward it as a ‘must read’ to many others. Good on you, Will! Thanks for all you continue to do to make a difference in the lives of our students!
This issue of ‘Educational Leadership’ has lots more articles that are right on target. Get a copy and read each one!
I don’t know if some others have felt the same way that I have about this course but I am still sifting through the content, still going here and there with random and no particular direction. I have done quite a bit of reading, listening, and traveling from one link to another. I still feel like I should be completing something or at least posting my thoughts but my thoughts are still very scattered and really “just forming”. I tell myself that it is OK if I don’t post or participate but I still have that feeling of not doing my part. Again, I tell myself to get over it. I really have not had anything to contribute yet as I am still “in the woods”. I admit to a little impatience as we discuss theories and definitions as I am probably too much of a practical person. I want to discuss what might or might not work in our classrooms. Looking at all this with one eye on the needs of elementary students is quite a challenge.
So I thought I might contribute some of my thoughts as an elementary teacher who strives to impart that feeling of learning that she has experienced from being connected on the web to her students. I have been blogging with (mostly elementary students) since 2002. I remember the first day I arrived at the university getting ready to start a new job – a colleague introduced me to blogs. I thought wow, that has possibilities. I wonder how I could make use of it in a classroom. That started an incredible journey. Blogging is empowering to students. Writing begins to matter to them. The outside connecting audience is one of the motivating factors. I can recall many moments that have been real “aha” moments for students. These “aha” moments are connected with Things You Really Need to Learn. () (Thanks Stephen for this worthy list.)
It has always struck me as odd that we seldom spend time with students, particularly those at the elementary level, talking about how they learn. It’s always what they are to learn. So I have worked at helping elementary students reflect about their own learning and to share what works for them in their learning with each other. They need practice in this area and a blog is a perfect place to do that.
Another thing I’ve been doing is taking numerous side trips down participant’s blogs. They are fascinating and all the different perspectives are so interesting. There is so much information available that I get lost on the trails – good trails though!
Then today when I read “New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies” I thought – ahhhh we are getting closer to the classroom applications. Grainne Conole discusses the implications of Web 2.0 for education provided a thoughtful analysis on the different learning theories and how we might need new ways of thinking about how to map different pedagogies to the use of tools. Then he focused on the learning principles for a particular learning situation that were mapped against four key characteristics of learning – thinking and reflection, conversation and interaction, experience and activity, & evidence and demonstration. Now I need to do some more thinking on all this and what the implications are for learning.
I still have so much to learn but one thing I will keep doing is thinking about the possibilities.
One of my fifth grade bloggers recently posted about an enrichment camp she attended over fall break. I have been giving a lot of thought lately to ways to bump up their reflections. Generally students of this age will say they had fun, were bored, liked it or didn’t, or similar responses. They have not been asked to do a lot beyond that. I am working on helping the fifth grade students improve their reflective writing posts and asked these questions of one of the students:
What did you learn?
How do you know you learned it?
What got in the way of your learning?
What helped your learning?
How did you feel?
Any suggestions of other ways to ask questions to help them think a little deeper about their learning????
Flickr photo credit: Reflections in bubbles from Lance and Erin’s photostream
I have been traveling about on the many and diverse blogs of the participants of this course. Cristina wrote a thoughtful post about The role of people’s enthusiasm in learning. She wonders, “Where does the motivation come from? Where do we get our inspiration from? Why do some of us get “high on” learning? why doesn’t everyone react the same way?… I’ve wondered the same things. Then she shared her thoughts on an online meeting with Carla Arena’s new class on the use of blogs. The consensus seemed to be that the community and the networks you are able to cultivate around a class are what makes blogging special. All of this is near and dear to my heart. I have been blogging with students since 2002, mostly elementary kids. I once wrote my rationale for educational blogging and thought I’d share. Also, some lessons learned.
Elementary students are extremely motivated to blog. They feel empowered – they get to have choices, their voices develop, and a community of learning develops that gets to go outside the classroom and connect with and learn from others. That outside connecting audience makes a difference. It is exciting. It is motivating. My first year of blogging brought this reflection from Dane, one of my students. When asked
“If an outsider visited your site, what would you hope he or she would think about it?
I would hope they would think of children as being capable of more than they had first anticipated.
That did it for me. I’ve been blogging with elementary students ever since. I think their voices need to be heard and we adults need to learn how to listen to those voices.
I really love the banner on Cristina’s blog. The young girl skipping down the path really depicts the joy of a learning journey. I feel like I am on board!