One of the projects I used to teach on voice, had my students reading remixes of the story of the 3 Little Pigs. When I started this project back in 2007, we only had the desktop lab, but I started having students respond in less traditional paper and pencil kind of ways. I would read 3 different versions of the story to my students. We would start out with the classic version, followed by The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and lastly The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas. I used these books to show my students that good writers get ideas from other people’s work. I had the students follow up the reading by creating a blog as one of the characters, from one of the stories we read. They had to fill in their about me page and add a couple of posts as their character. I encouraged my students to respond to the original story by filling in the “holes”.
Here is a link to an example I showed my students the first year (http://bigmomma-christine.blogspot.ca/).
Here are some student samples (http://atriptograndmashouse.blogspot.ca/ & http://myownstoryofthethreelittlewolves.blogspot.ca/)
I have not done this project on the 3 Little Pigs in a few years. Now that I have more access to iPads and laptops, I have my students creating things like movie trailer responses, vlogs, Telligami’s (avatar’s), Toontastics, Storybirds, Animotos, ToonDoos (comics) and more. Looking back, I could do this project again, but on my students’ blogs they could respond in more ways than adding just images and text like we did back then. Now they can use the tools available to them to respond in many different ways and of their choice. Pretty much anything they create using an app or web 2.0 tool can be embedded to their blog. If they choose to create something more hands on (not digital) they could then video tape a reflection about their piece or use a screencasting tool like Educreations or Explain Everything and that could be embedded to their blog.
In the beginning, I only used blogs for publishing their language arts work. Since 2007, my students' blogs have evolved into a portfolio of their work across subjects. It is no longer limited to writing. The apps and web tools mentioned above can be used to represent learning across subjects. Let your students be creative and then upload their work to their blog. Use Tellegami to let your students take on the role of someone else for social studies. Have them create a commercial on why people should visit Alberta or Canada (thinking about social studies again) using Animoto or WeVid. Video record them explaining how they worked out a math problem. Let them video record their group doing a skit or role play. You are probably doing some of these activities already with your class. Just think though how can you make them digital and then students can share them on their blog or any other web publishing platform for that matter.
The commenting feature on blogs lend themselves nicely to getting feedback. Not only can classmates be giving feedback, but parents and families can be encouraged to engage by commenting on student blogs too. I have found that opening up my blogs publicaly also allows students to get feedback from others students and people from anywhere. I started doing this by connecting my class to another same grade class in our division. We created links to each others blogs and our students began connecting and reading each other's work. We talked about giving constructive and positive feedback to each other. My students were so motivated by this. They loved hearing what others had to say about their work and they really took what the other students had to say, to heart. It was no longer only me saying the same things over and over to my students. Other people were giving them the feedback and they seemed to take this more seriously. A bit annoying for me but it worked! Later on I added more classrooms to our blogroll. This included classes across our province and throughout Canada. You could even open this up to classrooms anywhere in the world. In grade 5 students learn about Canada. Why not connect your class to students blogging across Canada? Where do you find these connections? Start with teachers or people you know or try Twitter. There are so many educators on Twitter looking for classes to connect with. Search the hashtag #comments4kids to find people blogging with students.
Blogging is one way I am able to get my students engaging in the participatory culture we live in. How do you do this with your students? Please add your suggestions in the comments section...I would love to hear them;)
For more information on blogging/eportfolios see our resource page: http://phrdconnections.weebly.com/eportfolios.html
Nov. 7 PHRD PD day- Blogging Session
Questions are key components of all aspects of life. We use questions to gather information from the people around us. We use questions to make sense of our environment. As I am at the beginning of my new assignment as a collaborative lead teacher, I find that I have many questions…and I am worried that I may not be asking the right ones, or in the right way.
In education, there are many different kinds of questions and purposes:
I have spent years trying to improve my questioning strategies. It always intrigues me when a student comes up with an unexpected response to a question…and causes me to look again at the question itself. How did the student arrive at the unexpected interpretation? What could I do to frame the question with greater clarity?
As I start collaborating with teachers on the wide spectrum of topics they are interested in, I have discovered (and re-discovered) some questioning resources I thought I would share:
If you are considering having students come up with questions in your class, here is a blog post from MindShift that discusses why (for students) the question is more important than the answer from the book, Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/10/for-students-why-the-question-is-more-important-than-the-answer/ “We’ve been underestimating how well our kids can think.” Rothstein said in a recent discussion on the talk show Forum. “We see consistently that there are three outcomes. One is that students are more engaged. Second, they take more ownership, which for teachers, this is a huge thing. And the third outcome is they learn more – we see better quality work.”
And for those of us who prefer to view rather than read, two videos on questioning:
As I start this new adventure called ‘collaborative lead teacher’ I am finding a whole new level of questions. In addition to those we work on with students, teachers have questions that guide their work, especially as we attempt to navigate curriculum re-design.
I look forward to finding the answers through working with you.
By Christine Quong
Recently, I had the chance to visit Michael Strembitsky School. Something that stood out for me was their celebration of their "Epic Fails". For the past 2 years and a bit, their school has been on a journey to make Inspiring Education come to life. There is a focus on cross curricular planning and inquiry based learning at their school. They are the first to admit that it is not perfect and failing is where their best learning occurs. Stories of failed projects involving grade 5's sewing their own winter clothing were shared. Each and every failure teaches them something. They celebrate their failures as a staff and keep moving forward! As a teacher that tends to be an early adopter this was encouraging to see. Their admin team expects and supports their faculty as they take risks and try new things.
Is this the culture of your classroom or your school? With the curriculum redesign on the horizon, teachers may need to make changes to the way they have always taught. This is not an easy thing to do. They may need to take risks and that can be uncomfortable. Over the past 2 years, I have been thinking more deeply about my own teaching practice. I believe that students need to have choice in their learning and how they demonstrate their learning. However, my summative assessments did not always match this. Many times at the end of a unit I would give a written test. Why did I do this? I felt like I had to. There was a feeling of pressure from parents and other teachers to give tests the way we always have. I did not I feel like I could take a risk and not give a test. Not that I asked my admin or discussed this with my colleagues. Maybe I should have asked these questions, but I did not. It wasn't that I did not feel supported by admin but I guess the freedom to fail was not as blatant. Our failures were not shared, celebrated and reflected on as a staff.
But what if they were? What would you do differently? If you were brave enough to try one new thing in your teaching practice this year, what would it be? What if it fails? What is the worst that could happen? What if your students took more risks in their learning? What would they accomplish? If they fail would it be the end of the world? Or would they learn from that failure and keep moving forward?
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.