Yesterday I did something crazy. Instead of teaching the lesson I had planned for CE 10, I ditched it. Yep, ditched it. Highly unusual for me. I do not fly by the seat of my pants; I always know where I’m going. Always. But instead, I asked them, “If you could create your own CE course, what would it look like content-wise, in practice, even in spatial lay-out?”
They wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I have never seen students write as furiously as my students wrote during those 20 minutes. Then they got into groups of 3 or 4 and discussed and bounced their ideas off of one another. They laughed. They were animated. One girl looked at her friend and said, “This is so exciting!”
Then we shared as a class. And I wasn’t exceptionally shocked by what they had to say. They know. They know what they want to learn, how they want to learn, and in some ways, what they need to learn. And to the degree that I can, this is what our classroom is going to become.
Spatially, they’re tired of tables and chairs. What about pillows and bean bag chairs?
Notes they don’t mind. But they’d prefer fewer of them and more discussion. “Can we sit on the floor in a circle and discuss. We want to hear each other’s ideas and opinions.” They find this much more meaningful. Guest speakers would be great as well. And maybe instead of me being so much of a teacher, I could be a wise guide they look up to, who helps them along the way.
And my students want to make a difference. They want to research companies that pay fair wages and boycott those who do not. They want to give up stuff like coffee and chocolate and buy only sustainable products. One of my students spent 3 hours researching last night.
This morning we talked about spending weeks researching this stuff and then creating a wiki with it, so that others can learn from them. We also talked about challenging other schools to join our boycott and become part of the six items or less campaign. And about blogging all of this, so that others around the world can enter into and learn from their experience. They’re excited; so am I.
All of this happened during the past 24 hours, then this evening I watched the Networked Student. I was shocked because over the next two weeks my classroom is going to become like this.
We have no textbook. And my students, to a certain degree will determine their own learning. Obviously we have certain curricular standards that have to be met, but I honestly believe this way we’ll easily exceed the expectations.
I will take on the role of teaching my students how to assess the credibility of resources, how to use Google Scholar, and then bookmark their findings to Delicious. And they will begin to blog. None of my students have blogged before. But through these blogs they will not only be able to teach others what they are learning, they will also be able to reflect deeply. They will also learn how to comment on each others blogs, as well as find blogs from around the world to interact with.
And i tunes U — Amazing! I can’t wait to show my students the wealth of knowledge waiting at their fingertips.
Their final learning projects will likely include a class wiki, voice threads or photostories of what they’ve learned, blog pages, and possibly YouTube videos. With today’s technology, the possibilities are almost endless.
Yesterday when school began, my CE class was a normal classroom. Sometimes interesting, not completely ineffective, but not what I wanted it to be. Now it’s not. I don’t know where the path is going to lead us, but I would never go back.
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference.|
Photograph courtesy of Creative Commons -Yellow Snow Photography