The Need To “Guide On The Side”

My school is involved in a Livescribe Pilot Project. Teachers in all divisions are using the Livescribe Pen to offer descriptive feedback to students. Children are also offering descriptive feedback to each other. We’re looking to see how using this tool for descriptive feedback helps students apply this feedback in order to improve their work.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged on the Live With Livescribe Blog about how sometimes teachers need to spend a little time learning the tool in order to figure out how that tool can best be used to improve learning. In the example on my other blog post, I talked about how four of my students wrote a procedure for how to use the Livescribe Pen, and how teachers are now using this procedure to learn how to use the tool. Teachers are also asking for some tutorials from students to assist them as they try something new.

Last week, one of the Grade 7 teachers at my school, Mike LoSchiavo, came down to my classroom to get some help. He just received a Livescribe Pen, and he wanted to know how to use it. Two of my students went out into the hallway with him and gave him a tutorial session. I happened to capture part of this 10 minute session with a photograph, and it was this photograph that inspired this blog post:

Students Teaching The Teacher

Notice how the students have Mr. LoSchiavo holding the Livescribe Pen and working the Livescribe Pen. The children are merely there as “coaches.” They are talking the teacher through the process, but ensuring that the teacher uses the tool, so that he knows how to use the tool and will leave my classroom using it as well.

Mr. LoSchiavo emailed me this weekend to share that he’s already been using the Livescribe Pen. Yeah!! I’m inferring here, so I may be wrong, but I think that if my students had spent the 10 minute tutorial time demonstrating how to use the Livescribe Pen instead of assisting in an exploration, this teacher would not already be using the tool. People need to play in order to learn.

How many professional development sessions have you been to when the focus is on the “showing” instead of the “exploring?” How can we change this? What do you do to ensure that you are giving “play time” to adults as well as students? What benefits do you see to this? A special thank you to my wonderful students for reminding me about the need to guide on the side!


4 thoughts on “The Need To “Guide On The Side”

  1. Well Aviva, @peterskillen and I heartily agree with you! At Minds on Media events we continue to strive to turn professional learning sessions into events where the control is in the hands of the learner.
    Hope you’ll check out the philosophy here at our website (which is a work in progress)

    Perhaps you’d be interesting in participating at ECOO this year? That ‘guide on the side’ is exactly what we are looking for in facilitators, and it’s not easy to do! I’ve found that my experience as a primary teacher helps…we do understand that play is an important part of learning for folks of all ages!

    • Thanks for the comment, Brenda! I’ve already put in a number of proposals for ECOO, and I really hope to be “presenting” again. I loved the experience last year!

      I also love the set-up that you and Peter have for Minds on Media, and I hope to be able to attend one year as well. It sounds like a wonderful play/learning experience for everyone!


    • Thanks for your comment, Dominique! I think that the Livescribe Pen is definitely worth purchasing. Here’s a link to a number of posts on how I’m using the Livescribe Pen to give descriptive feedback. I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, please just let me know.


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