Wednesday, July 03, 2013

#CyberPD--Who Owns the Learning?, Ch 1-2

Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age
by Alan November
Solution Tree (May 21, 2012)
I'm reading the Kindle Edition

My brain is going in two different directions as I read this book. 

1. (the young side of my brain) Well, duh. You long ago gave away sole responsibility for hallway and classroom displays. Why not take the next logical step and do the same thing with learning and teaching?

2. (the greying side of my brain) I don't know enough about all of these digital tools! When will I have time to learn them all before I teach them to my students??! I don't have access to enough iPads or laptops to make this work! (answer from young side: Quit hyperventilating. You know very well that all you need to do is turn students loose with technology and they will figure it out. And weren't you paying attention? You can do all of this...or at least get started...with just one laptop and one iPad. That's do-able.)

Questions for Discussion, Chapter 1

"2. What first steps might you take in building a learning community where your students take on more responsibility for contributing to the learning of the class?"
  • Reinvent my classroom jobs to include Scribe and Researcher. I wonder if I could have my Researcher monitor/add to the class Twitter feed throughout the day?
  • Resurrect my class wiki and turn it over to the students to manage. Learn just enough about podcasting and screencasting to teach my students (if they even need to be taught) and give it over. Frankly, the biggest barrier I felt/imagined was the amount of time it would take ME to manage the wiki.
  • Start a class blog that goes out to the world.
  • Don't grade -- don't even offer extra credit points for -- any creative project that contributes to the learning of the whole class. Remember, "Students teaching students is a powerful method for building learning and driving creativity and innovation."
Questions for Discussion, Chapter 2

"1. As an educator, can you name some specific types of lessons or topics that would be particularly well suited for student tutorials?" 

Short answer: Yes. Lots of them. 

New thinking: Perhaps the next step after a guided lesson with students who are struggling with a topic is to ask them to create a tutorial. 

Here are a few possible Language Arts tutorials (guided lessons I taught with small groups) I can think of off the top of my head:
  • making plurals with nouns that end in vowel-y and consonant-y (word study)
  • cause and effect (reading nonfiction)
  • summarizing (reading fiction and nonfiction)
  • revising a poem for line breaks (writing)

Cathy (Reflect and Refine) is hosting today's conversation about WHO OWNS THE LEARNING? Thank you to her, and to Jill Fisch (My Primary Passion) and Laura Komos (Ruminate and Invigorate) for bringing us together to have these important conversations.

(A note about my post -- I deliberately did not read anyone else's posts before writing mine. I'm anxious to see how my thinking is the same as and different from everyone else's!)


  1. Oh great - I did not purchase this book because I have an overwhelming to read shelf full of PD books I haven't gotten to yet, but it looks like I need to. I LOVE your idea of the scribe on Twitter! And I'm going to dust off my class blog this year and turn it over to the students as well. Trying to manage it myself - with a class FB page, my own blog, and everything else was a mess. So much good thinking here!

  2. I especially like the idea of creating tutorials because while I've had students teach lessons in numerous ways, mostly it was a 'whole class' lesson, and this way, students will be able to access the tutorials they need, or the teacher can guide them to the tutorial. There may be a need for someone to handle the organization of the work as well. My biggest issue personally is to convince those teachers I work with to move into this new area.

  3. Mary Lee,
    I enjoyed reading your post today. I did not share this idea in my post, but the idea of a student posting to the class twitter feed crossed my mind too. I purchased an iPod touch for my class this year with that type of thinking in mind. Too purposes came to mind when I was thinking about why I was going to make this purchase. One was the idea that kids can post directly to our class blog through the Weebly app and the other was to have kids take pics of their own work to post to our twitter feed. I just need to figure out how to effectively do this so it just becomes part of wehat we do as a community instead of whenever I remember to do it.

  4. I felt like my kids took off with some things during the 2nd half of the year once I let go of things but I find myself wondering what's possible with younger kids as I move to 3rd grade. I know in my heart that not much needs to change but I am thinking more in terms of building things into routines rather than jobs--making Twitter, blog, etc. part of our daily routines during the first 6 weeks as a shared experience and then going from there. I do better with routines and then kids usually lead me from there. I like Tony's words about it becoming part of what we do as a community. I need to keep that in mind. Thanks!

    1. Franki,

      I like routines too, and at high school where students have mobile devices in their pockets, the challenge is to work with that environment and not fight it. I have been thinking hard about what routines I can establish which would allow students to access their devices for a short task and then have them put away. For example, students could, upon entering class, go to our twitter account, read the learning goal for the lesson, and tweet a metacognitive statement. They would have 2 mins for this task, and then the phones/devices would go away until the next event.


      Jobs would still come into play, but routines are needed too. Great distinction!

    2. I think that's a great way to get going with's my understanding that this year, Tallmadge High school piloted a BYOD plan. I am not sure what steps they took to implement use of the devices in each class...but maybe there's information about what they did-ill hook up with a friend of mine and ask her...
      Like the ideas of relating it to routines and communities!

    3. Franki~
      You will be pleasantly relieved when you see how capable your 3rd graders will be, my 1st graders amaze me daily! I have worked to make tech part of the community and just what we do. The kids QUICKLY took it from there reminding me when they saw an opportunity for a post etc!
      Cant wait to read about your teaching next year!

  5. Mary Lee,

    I agree with the greying side of your brain in that there are lots of tools but that the kids will figure them out. I have had good luck with giving kids the tool or app and saying figure out what it can do. Then we talk about ways we can use that tool to share our learning.

    I, too, am thinking about having a classrooom Twitter account. We do have a class blog and individual Kidblogs so I am trying to figure out what my purpose would be in using a Twitter account. My first thinking is that it is a quicker, easier way to connect with others but I still have more thinking to do about what to share in each arena. Do I really need all 3?

    Thanks for the ideas and helping me begin to think through more ideas.


  6. Mary Lee,
    I was laughing as I read your "young brain/greying brain" debate - that could be me! Yes, need to get over that fear that we won't have all the answers. You've got me thinking more about twitter and class blogs as I go back to classroom teaching this year.

  7. Mary Lee,
    You made me laugh with your young side - gray side conversation. Actually, I know your young side always wins your conversations. I've been watching and following your journey. I'm also thinking about how much you do know about tools --- and I agree, turning students loose always gets things done. Students always know more than we realize and are not ever afraid to figure out the rest.

    Like you, I want to learn more about screencasting and podcasting. I also want to think about how I can help students to accomplish this. Maybe we can have a little lab exploration when you return?

    I kind of skipped over the questions at the end --- did this as a student too, but after seeing your answers I'm thinking I might go back and spend some time thinking a little more deeply about them.


    P.S. I can never look at posts from any event before I write mine. I get all caught up in everyone's thinking so I always write --- then tour.

    1. On another note. I'm still thinking about your one laptop, one iPod dilemma. This year I think I'll have 3 desktops, 2 iPods and 1 iPad. The accessibility of an iPod and iPad is going to give students a lot more freedom in learning, creating, and sharing. I'm going to have to think about how to take advantage of these new tools.

      Always more to think about,

  8. Mary Lee,
    Your "younger vs. older" inner conversation had me cracking up! I think we all suffer from similar inner voices (at least I know I do.) You are absolutely right though; letting go and giving students the opportunity to lead the way is a fabulous idea. I was always amazed at what my first graders figured out on their blogs before I even had a chance to think about showing them.

    I'm really pondering the idea of making jobs such as Twitter, class blog, and those from Alan's book a part of our classroom community. I agree with Franki and Tony - if it's a normal part of our classroom community/routine, I'm more likely to stick with it.

    Thanks for joining in the conversation. So much to mull over!

  9. Mary Lee,
    I also identified with your greying side/young side comment, but I also think you know a lot about using tools. I agree that if we can just give up some control, our students will show us the way, and in the process we will learn a lot about them as learners. Thanks for sharing your thinking. Love the idea of reinventing the classroom jobs. We really don't need a blackboard/whiteboard eraser, do we?

  10. Mary Lee,

    Love that you used the chapter end questions to frame your post. In fact, Chapter 2 Discussion question will, I hope, form a supplementary post. My early thinking is that as I return to the high school classroom my goal was to work one-on-one with students than I had in the past (you primary people have profoundly impacted my practice!). Yet, November is making me reconsider this goal, at least in part. Maybe what I should be doing is supporting students in designing tutorials for each other. And I like how you have identified the tutorial design as a next step.

    Hmm...the student as tutorial designer post is cooking.

    Thanks for stirring the pot.


  11. Loved your post, ML! About the tutorials -- had a great conversation with one of our TSTs this year about posting student work on the wiki (I stunk at this!!) so that any student could find it as a learning aid no matter where they were / continues to break down the walls between home and school. Another friend suggested that Weebly has the power to do the same and maybe even more. Lots to think about headed into this year.

    I agree with both you and Tony -- I need to build routines into our community so the learning and connections beyond our walls are just a regular part of what we do.

  12. And another thing -- given how different our two populations are in the same district, how interesting would it be to connect each of our 2 classes in the coming year? Just a thought...

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  14. Mary Lee,
    I was thinking about how you mentioned giving it over to the kids-i'm sort of a control freak so letting them have at it made me nervous this year-but as Firsties, they surprised me and it made me smile when I'd hear them telling each other what to do...they can do it! We just have to give them the chance.
    Also, like you and Cath, I wrote my post before reading anyone else's ! After reading the first few, I noticed that "how to" do this and what technology should we already know seem liike common threads...
    I will go back and read the end of chapter questions too!

  15. MaryLee~
    As all primary people before me have said, letting the kids have at it is the way to go! You will be amazed, I guess the kids just don't have a grey side yet- tee hee!

    The idea of a student tutorial is still one I am pondering but, I love the idea a small group (who needs a bit more help) creating the tutorial. What a great way for these kids to process the information. Imagine how great they will feel when other classmates watch the tutorial!

  16. MaryLee,
    I like the idea of student created tutorials. I think creating an opportunity for a student to become passionate about this topic will make for a great result.


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