Over the winter holidays, I read a fantastic Ministry resource, Think, Feel, Act: Lessons From Research About Young Children. The resource features many of my favourite minds on Early Childhood Education, including a wonderful article on pages 5-10 by Dr. Jean Clinton. She challenges us to think about the amount of time that we spend correcting and directing versus connecting. While the article is focused on younger children, I believe this same thinking extends beyond our work with 3-5 year olds. I thought about this more during a few different experiences this week.
As some of my blog readers know, in my new position, I share an office space in the Learning Commons with two other educators. While I spend very little time in this space outside of the hours between 7:10 and 8:30 (before school starts), I will sometimes come back to grab something if needed. This week, I ran back in on my prep to grab my car keys, as I needed some additional chalk from my trunk for our Epic Kindergarten Outdoor Play Literacy Experience. This is when I saw our fantastic Teacher Librarian, Jenn. She was so excited, as a group of intermediate students independently unpacked, set-up, and figured out how to work the podcasting tools for a new experience in the Learning Commons.
One thing that I love about Jenn is that when she is joyful, everybody feels it. She is such a passionate educator, who is always looking out for kids first. Due to some of my own commitments on that day, I could feel her excitement, but I think that I only really got to appreciate a small part of it.
Then I came into school the next day, and I saw this brainstorming.
I am all about authentic reasons to read and write, and I not only loved that podcasting was allowing this to happen for students beyond kindergarten, but that it was causing students to get excited about, invested in, and thinking deeply about learning.
The next day, I walked into the Learning Commons again, and the whiteboard from the day before exploded with even more podcasting ideas. As a curriculum nerd, I couldn’t help but look at this board and see connections to expectations across the grades and across the subject areas.
Later in the day, I was chatting with Jenn and our principal, Suzie, a little bit more about podcasting. This took me back to over 10 years ago, and my first experience with Andy Forgrave‘s internet radio station, 105 the Hive.
When I started to think about podcasting in the same way that I thought about 105 the Hive, I realized that it’s these kinds of student-driven, high interest, engaging inquiry experiences that would allow for even more time for educators to connect versus correct behaviour. Thinking about our focus on Universal Design For Learning, podcasting is also a wonderful way for students to share thinking and learning, which could be good for all, but necessary for some.
But what about, “We don’t have time for this? We have too much curriculum to cover.”
I understand the stress that a classroom educator feels, and I know that this comes from a place of wanting to do everything we can for kids. Many years ago, when the Social Studies Document first came out, there was a lot of time talking about the fact that expectations are not a checklist, and we really should be looking to the Big Ideas and Overall Expectations as our guide. This makes the curriculum less overwhelming, but it also allows us to dig deeper and prioritize thinking. Keeping this in mind, I wonder if a podcasting approach might allow for this focus on Big Ideas and Overall Expectations, while also supporting key Language expectations around Oral Communication, Reading, Writing, and Media Literacy. What might this look like across the grades?
I’ve added some of my ideas to a Padlet (slide across and down to see more), and I’m hoping that others can share theirs here or as a comment on this post.
Imagine the learning that we could co-create online, across Boards, and even across countries that could benefit students and allow us to experience even more joy in classroom and school environments. The recording itself does not need to be perfect, and as students continue to play with podcasting, they might add in different elements (e.g., intro music), but could the key here be finding a place to start? I keep thinking about some books that I read about inquiry many years ago now, and the important link between thinking and student achievement. If we want to help our kids become better thinkers, might podcasting be a great vehicle to support this? I’m excited to be on this learning journey with our school community.