Starting With The Students

I multi-task, but by nature, I’m not a multi-tasker. I find it difficult to do numerous things all at the same time. Since returning from presenting at ECOO 2012, I’ve been multi-tasking a lot more each week, as I oversee our various radio shows on 105 the Hive. When doing these shows, I’m interacting with the small group of student hosts, as well as reading through the Twitter and Today’sMeet backchannels to monitor what’s being said and share information with the hosts. For me, this is a lot of multi-tasking. I started to see multi-tasking in a new light today though when watching my students on the air.

Our Recording – Sorry! Some of the writing did not appear for some reason. Thanks Emily S. for taking our Livescribe Pen notes today!

These students are incredible! They were contributing to the discussion, reading the tweets and backchannel posts, replying to the posts, videotaping our radio show, and recording audio snippets of our radio show as well. Unbelievable! They never missed a beat either.

This made me think that when we plan for student learning, we need to start with the students. Engagement for them may be different than it is for us. We need to keep instructions short. We need to be cognisant of just talking at the students, and instead, spend more time talking with them. We need to allow for involvement in the learning, and this may mean more backchannelling opportunities. We need to ensure multiple entry points. We need to create an environment where all students are eager to learn and active in the learning. We need to be okay with the fact that this may mean that students are doing different things at different times in different ways.

The learning environment itself helps put these ideas in perspective. When we recorded the radio show today, we used the library. At the beginning of the year, my teaching partner and part-time librarian, Gina Bucciacchio, and our principal, Paul Clemens, along with a handful of teachers, created a library that has really become a collaborative space. When my class was downstairs today, they made use of the different spaces in the library. Some students worked on the computers to backchannel or tweet. Some students sat at the tables with their handheld devices and participated in the chatrooms. A few students worked on the SMART Board to share ideas in Today’sMeet. A group of students created a “talking station” over on the sofas in the corner, where they discussed their books first before sharing them online. These students benefit from formulating their ideas orally before writing them down, and they created the environment that they needed to be successful. This talk was purposeful, and helped them as they shared with others. I’ve already looked at how we can use the library again for our next radio show broadcast. What a great space that really allows learning to happen.

Students matter. When we look at everything through a student lens, it helps give an important, new perspective. I’ve always thought that students should come first, but I don’t think that I’ve always thought about teaching and learning from a student’s point of view. That changes things. How do you start with the students? How has this changed your teaching practices? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


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