Recently, I attended an #ETMOOC session on connected learning. (To find out about more about this course, please read this previous post.) Below are my thoughts as well as a project proposal for Abbot School.
In today’s world, if you want to know how to do something, you don’t have to wait. The answer is probably only a Google Search and/or YouTube video away. Anyone, including students, easily can seek out the answers to their questions or curiosities. Usually the results are with pictures, audio and even video instruction. Likewise, the seeker also can return the favor by offering advice or answers to someone else using these same online networks and methods. This practice of being connected in your learning is extremely empowering and, honestly, a little scary, if you work with younger students.
Growing up, I was taught that if I had a question, I should ask my teacher. Now, the classroom teacher is no longer the sole purveyor of knowledge. Sharing knowledge is not limited to a select few. Conversations begin soon after only a few keystrokes or an upload of a video. I believe that students need to exert independence and take risks, so I’m fine with classrooms not being teacher-centered, but rather student-centered. However, in this age of mass contribution, we need to be thinking about digital literacy along with the three R’s. In this case, we need to remember what every librarian has always stressed: is the source reliable? Where is the information coming from? Is it biased? I don’t think we should stop students from pursuing their interests and making/gathering connections with a global community. Students just need to be guided. Teachers as tour guides… I think I like that.
This brings me to my proposal for Abbot School. I want to our staff to create a video via the method of crowdsourcing. At the beginning of each week, students recite the Abbot School Pledge in unison with the morning announcements. To show community belief in these words, I would like to ask the staff to video record themselves reading the Pledge and Code of Conduct. This is a great opportunity to model reading with expression and fluency. I will take the recordings submitted, cut a clip from each and make them into one cohesive reading of the Pledge and Code of Conduct to be shared with students and parents. I think this activity will demonstrate how the adults work together and believe in/expect these community guidelines that have been established. Each staff member’s contribution is individual and personal; yet, an important part in making up Abbot School.
Let’s start the tour… I will send out a specific email to staff about how to participate, and I hope this also gets people thinking about how students could create similar collaborate projects in the curriculum.