‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!”
Apologies to the noble Bard, but also importantly to my Yr 9 English teacher Mrs. Bardsley. For I did make the comment (a fair one at the time) quite loudly in class whilst we were being forced to read Julius Ceasar, that ‘..why do we have to read this and when will it ever be useful?’ So hence my apology, albeit 20 years late.
However, there is a reason for using it as a starting point for this post. It’s about voice and particular student voice in our classroom. Now there are a whole range of interpretations around what student voice is, mostly meaning that students should be co-planners/contributors to the learning process, a notion I really like, but I’m going to come at this from a slightly different angle.
You see one of my pet hates is this.
Our students do some amazing work in our schools and our classrooms, but generally noone gets to see it or hear it. Generally the students create some work, shares it with the teacher and peers in the classroom, maybe some of them get to show it at assembly and parents see it when it goes home at the end of the unit or the end of the term. A lot of it stays forever on the computer or server at school, waiting to be deleted at the end of the year. Parents generally only see the ‘published piece’ and don’t see the drafts or the learning that takes place up to the finish piece until the portfolios/workbooks come home at the end of the term/year when desks are emptied.
As a student, I could think of nothing better than to share and showcase my learning with as many as possible. Hey, it’s what I’m doing right now by writing this post. I love the fact that people leave comments on this blog as I get instant feedback and more insights into my own learning. We need to more of this with our students. Even our VELS curriculum constantly states that students ‘write/create/communicate for a variety of audiences and purposes’ across all levels. It evens states that by the end of level 4 students need ‘ to upload their work to protected, public online spaces.’
There are so many tools/sites/options available to our students(and teachers) to publish all types of their work online, and all our schools have newsletter and websites to showcase and promote it, so why is it still the small few who do? The answer in my opinion is 2 things: fear and practice.
Firstly, fear. In my experience as soon as you mention putting student work on the internet the automatic response is ‘..but we can’t have student faces/names/pics etc on the internet.’ Well, yes you can and lots do and nothing goes wrong, but I understand and get the concerns around it. However, if you think about all the work our students do, not a lot of it actually includes images of students. So this is not a real reason to not put student work online for all to see.
Secondly, practice. You see it would be very boring to just constantly upload documents and pictures of art work. So when we change what we do in the classroom and look at how we can share all of the learning that happens there are a myriad of ways to share a brainstorm/timeline/video/audio/animation/cartoon/recount/report/narrative/reflection etc via the amazing array of learning tools at our fingertips. Also, not all of the learning has to be created digitally or on a computer but it can definitely be shared via it.
So my challenge is now this. Over the next few blog posts I am going to share some tools and ideas that might be useful and practical to allow students to share their learning and ‘products’ online. Sure is a great response to the age old student cry of ‘why do we have to do this’, by giving them meaningful and relevant context to create and share for not just themselves or the teacher, but the global world in which they live.
And I’m sure great Aunty Joan and Uncle Bob who live in Perth would love to be able to tap into the learning lives of their younger relatives. Just like I’m hoping Mrs Bardsley might tap into mine.