A friend and colleague tweeted me an infographic yesterday, and I realised it was just the incentive I needed to jot down my thinking on what has been going on so far with my Historical Fiction project. The infographic is called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology.
To my friend, I flippantly made the comment, based on Point 7, “I’m not sleeping at night, so I must be one of those!” HOWEVER, as I look point by point, I am comforted to think that I see these points in much of what I do.
Thinking about Point 1 most, I need to say that I have not enjoyed the planning for this project in the same way as I enjoyed learning in Courses 1-4. I think because I had to really scrape to come up with something to use for this project. Maybe that is because at this point in my life I am dealing with so many things happening that distract from study or maybe it is the restriction of the project where it had to be the reworking of an old unit and it was hard to reconcile the project to my classwork which is a contractual requirement and I don’t have the flexibility to make the changes I’d like. I have posted of this before so not going to repeat myself.
I started the Historical Fiction Unit by selecting groups with student input. We had a practice interactive read-aloud and then individual reading and then sharing findings in the book clubs – so they could see how the book club worked. I explained that in previous years students had completed the book club discussions with writing in a reading journal. But this time to try something new we would use a digital method of recording and it would be collaborative so it could be shared with all members of the book club and other interested bodies outside the club. We talked about possibilities. Students enthusiastically discussed in their clubs how they might share their learning.
So from the start, we have a couple of book clubs using Google Presentation, a couple using new collaborative blogs with Blogger, a club using a Google site, and one group using Edmodo. I pottered a little with Edmodo some time ago but am not an expert. One student took on the teaching role for her club and they are certainly more proficient than I. One group started with VoiceThread but gave up and chose a Blog instead.
For the First lesson they had their laptops on the tables. We sat together and I picked out the Historical Fiction teaching point for that lesson (from the planner that I don’t have permission to change). This was that readers look at the illustrations on the book covers to extract information about the historical aspect of this type of fiction. Students got their own books to do this for themselves. What I didn’t bargain for though, was that they did not talk about their discoveries. They went straight to their laptops.
They were all sharing their findings online. I was reminded of seeing older students all sitting silently around a table too busy texting to talk…
This happened with the next lesson too, and it started to bother me. I started thinking that this was NOT a good use of the technology. That the technology instead of enhancing the reading lessons, was having creating a situation where the face-to-face had disappeared. I had to rethink and the third lesson I had them discuss the their own findings of whatever the element of the day was, using the “knee-to-knee, eye-to-eye” strategy before they got the laptops out of the cart. NOW we seem to be having the best of both worlds.
We have not started the Writing Historical Fiction part yet. Our initial thoughts were to publish the stories they will write in iBook Author…. until someone said, “What about the Green Screen….?”
Adaptable? Malleable? Embracing change? Sharing? Absolutely! As much as is possible!