We need to get in front of people to learn, we need to share our ideas, our values, our feelings, and by doing this we are opening ourselves up to others. You can see students “armour up” when sometimes asked to present. This reminds me of the learner profile and the trait of risk-taking. How do we encourage students to step out o their comfort zones and be vulnerable to criticism, to making mistakes in front of their peers, to sharing their emotions and personal stories? This culture needs to be created by the teacher through the use of cultural forces such as modelling, giving time, the language we use and the opportunities we provide our students. If I as the teacher get up in front of the students and share a personal story about being scared, the students should feel more comfortable right? Maybe they don’t get up and speak to the whole class but I have found that a good way in my class to start is to at the very least is sharing thinking whether it be showing their work on the projector and have students critique it, passing their writing to a peer for evaluation or explaining their mathematical thinking. These types of baby-steps help students to put themselves “out there” by sharing their work first before they take a more courageous step of presenting their ideas. The Daring Classrooms resource expounds on the importance of developing vulnerability if we want our students to be courageous and creative.
This week my students were publishing their writing but before doing that we had an opportunity to be vulnerable. I put my own writing out there and my students printed theirs for one final edit. We had a discussion about what are important things to look for in the final edit and my students came up with spacing, punctuation, spelling, and capital letters. We wrote these on the board and they estimated how many mistakes we would find as a class. As soon as that number was set the students began looking for their mistakes and then celebrating them by adding a tick in the appropriate column on the board. It soon became a giant celebration as the students continued to search for more mistakes and began giving their papers to each other to find more mistakes. To me, this is a vulnerability that leads to learning. Students need to be in an environment that encourages vulnerability and celebrates mistakes. At the end of the lesson, we ended up beating the expected number of mistakes by a long shot and celebrated by playing a little game and then correcting our mistakes online before publishing.
I think another important cultural force that promotes courage in the classroom is expectations. It should be an expectation in every class that students share their ideas, at the very least with a partner if not a small group or the whole class. There also has to be the expectation of the listener or the audience, that we are kind and helpful to each other, even if we don’t agree with an idea or their answer is wrong. We need to structure language and feedback in our class culture through routines opportunities, and examples. There also has to be an expectation that students will try tasks, and that what is important is the trying, not the perfections but at least the trying of tasks and the knowledge that mistakes will be celebrated as learning opportunities.
I think that an important part of allowing my students to become independent learners who design and manage the learning process effectively is by explicitly teaching and constantly reflecting on the use of the IB approaches to learning. I use these graphics daily from @orenjibuta in my classroom for students to talk about what skills we will be using to achieve a learning goal, and also again during learning journals or a class discussion about the skills they used during a learning experience. Furthermore, the practice of metacognition about the learning skills used in our online learning journals provides a place for students to think about the approaches they used to learn, which ones they can improve on, and then receive quick feedback from their peers, teacher, and parents about it. The class can then individually and as a whole continue to set goals about which approaches to improve on.
SAMR and the Edtech Quintet helped me to think about how through the use of technology integration with visualization and storytelling there can be the promotion of deep learning. I think that through the use of tools such as PicCollage, Book Creator, Canva, and Google Slides, students can tell stories about anything they want and visualize their understanding in a way that previously wasn’t available unless they had high-level art skills. Students can combine images, text, backgrounds and drawings in a way that redefines how they express their learning and understanding. They can spend time searching out and understanding deeper content rather than spending the time drawing a picture and quickly choosing fonts and sizes instead of drawing letter, and they can add emojis and colours to express their emotions in a way that is accessible to all students, not just those with the fine motor and art skills necessary to create something with the look they want to communicate.
What these types of technology integration are driving is creativity. The technology is promoting and facilitating the moving away from a fancier more engaging delivery towards a method of giving students a chance to use their creativity. Students can take a picture of something they are learning about, then add their ideas, drawings or calculations on top it, and then further this expression with a voice or text explanation all using one simple app that a 5-year-old can use. Using tools that encouraged creative modes of expression instead of content delivery to allow for deeper learning. Using the visuals from A Rich seam in Chapter 4, high-level tech use involves the creation of knowledge or digital artifacts and not the consumption of it. So how do we continue this in the classroom? Yes, sometimes something like Google-classroom has to be used to share out instructions or a table or template to use for the practice of skills. However, when students are applying skills, they can create and develop real-world artifacts that teach others about the concept they are learning about. The visualization and creation process is a great way for students to consolidate their understanding and the sharing of their ideas with an intended audience gives the artifact a meaningful purpose. The combination of a meaningful purpose and creative opportunities to share help lead to the deep learning that we want to facilitate in our schools.