Wednesday, July 10, 2013

#CyberPD--Who Owns the Learning?, Ch 3-4

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

"As long as you're asking what's next, you'll get there. 

But never be content with where you're at."

In Chapter 3, Alan November describes the job of Student Scribe. He says that this job is "low-hanging fruit," but I'm having some trouble imagining it in my 5th grade classroom. At least the way he describes it. My students aren't typically taking notes throughout the day. But maybe they should some way, shape, or (developmentally appropriate) form...

I can see the Scribe being responsible for a daily blog post for our class blog. And I like the idea that this is a place where "Every voice speaks with the same volume." The idea that the habits/skills that are a part of this job will contribute to lifelong learning and instill a sense of LEGACY in students is powerful. But was November reading my mind when he commented that part of the challenge with this job is getting past the fear of letting go of control?!? :-)

Discussion Question #3: "Do you think students will work harder on material that they prepare for that audience than they will when doing work for their teachers?"

I'm having a hard time answering this with an enthusiastic "Yes!" Blogging kind of flopped for me last year. My invitation to my students to join me in my Poetry Month project kind of flopped. My Columbus Dispatch Reader group is in the process of flopping. Where is this mystical, magical motivation? Does it have to do with audience and control? If I don't take charge, these things won't get done/get done correctly/well/on time...right? And where, exactly is this audience? As bloggers, we all know that it takes nearly as much energy to be a good audience as it does to be the ones creating the content to be consumed. I guess that's the part where I arrange for my class to partner with another class in the district (uh oh...there's that control issue again...) and/or my students link up with other classes through our Twitter feed.

Discussion Question #4: "How can teachers model sharing knowledge with a global audience?"

Easy peasy, this one. Blogging and Twitter and my Wikimedia Commons project for Poetry Month come immediately to mind. I've had photos from my Flickr photostream used (with my permission and with attribution) in a magazine and an online city guide. Just recently this Poetry Friday poem got picked up though a key word search "high plains" by High Plains Public Radio for their website. Got this one covered.

On the other hand, Chapter 4, Student as Researcher, was the chapter that showed me where my gaps are. I need to learn to do better Internet searches so that I can teach my students to be smarter researchers. I dipped into this a bit with my Poetry Month project. I no longer allow students to drag to their desktop any ol' image they find on any ol' Google Image search. This year, I taught my students to do an advanced image search for images that are licensed to be used/modified, and to give attribution for the image when it is used in a project. I have informally taught bits and pieces of analyzing a website and/or its address, but with the information and resources November has given me, I will be much more methodical (and informed) about this in the future!

ALL of the Discussion Questions for Chapter 4 are ones that I want to return to and reflect upon.  #1--I need to teach my students to design basic and advanced searches. #2--Yes, students should be taught search strategies in every discipline. #3--How to implement the role of student researcher in my classroom needs lots of thinking and planning. #4--Designing assessment items that required students to access the web...hmm...sounds very Common Core to me. And very exciting!

So much in Chapter 4 to think about and learn about! This chapter really got me excited!

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


  1. Mary Lee once again on the same page in Chapter 3 and I am excited to think about blogging differently this year-less control but perhaps a more focused audience ;) As a far as scribes, I was thinking of SS/Science since I teach both. But I am also playing around with scribed end of the week newsletter which we have always done. Students give me top 10 list and I typed into an email. More to think about thanks.

  2. Such an honest reflection, Mary Lee. Much appreciated. I like that you included your “flops."

  3. "As bloggers, we all know that it takes nearly as much energy to be a good audience as it does to be the ones creating the content to be consumed." -- so true, but rarely noted!

    Congrats about your High Plains poem!!

  4. Mary Lee,

    I loved your honesty when you were talking about the audience for blogs. I, too, have wondered the same thing. Up until now I have been satisfied with a smaller audience - other students in our class, parents, grandparents and other family members. I need to be more active in connecting my class with others. Occasionally, I have tweeted the link to a student's blog and this resulted in many comments for them from outside our regular audience. This did stir up lots of interest among the other students. So that lets me know that I should be more proactive about this and help them connect with other classes.

    I also find that some parents are "shy" about commenting on their child's blog, too. They do talk to their child about posts and students will share that their mom put their post on Facebook so I know that parents are reading and are interested. I just need to find ways to encourage more of them to comment, too. It is getting better and better each year so at least we are moving in the right direction.

    Thanks for all the great ideas.

  5. Anonymous9:29 PM

    Your quote at the top,
    "As long as you're asking what's NEXT, you'll get there.
    But never be content with where you're at." reminds me of last year's Cyber PD when we read Choice Words by Johnston. The book encouraged us to use the word "yet" and our group went more toward the word "next". For example, I have not cleaned my basement yet...has a different feeling than...I am going to clean my basement next.
    Thanks for a honest post! Your thoughtful post got me thinking :)

  6. Mary Lee,
    I love your honesty and questions as you worked your way through your post. It helps me to know that other people are asking those tough questions, too!

    Last year was a big eye-opener for me as I opened up my class blog and our KidBlog so that it was visible to the world. It made a HUGE difference in motivating my kids to write. We connected with other classes through the Primary Blogging Community, which gave us specific classes to follow as well. I would love to find ways to connect our kids next year to further their global audience!

  7. Mary Lee,

    I had the same trouble imagining the scribe in my classroom, when most of our work is in workshop format, with students doing lots of different things. But, this past year my school started using Schoology for grades and such and there was a class blog feature. I started posting daily the things we did as a class and what students should be working on at home. This could easily be turned over to students. I should re-consider this too. Thanks for sharing your struggles. Too often, we just share success stories, and those of us who struggle feel discouraged.

  8. It's interesting to hear about your class and your questions, Mary Lee. I know that it takes such planning in the background to set new things up and also that those who are not in the classroom don't often realize the effort made. I had a tech/blogging class a few years ago & once the students started getting comments from 'away', they got really interested to what they would write, etc. I didn't have the class long enough to hook up with many classes, but we did find one small school that communicated with us for that time. Thanks for all you shared!

  9. Mary Lee,
    Once again your voice in your post feels like it is speaking directly to me. I have many of the same concerns. I guess a goal for me is to just jump in and try more out. I look forward to seeing how this book influences you in the next school year.

  10. Mary Lee,

    I, too, appreciate Darren's words that frame your post. Sometimes we need to see what is possible in order to move forward in our own space. One of my favourite primary teachers, Tasha Cowdy, is so inspiring. She combines Reggio Emilia with inquiry with global learning. Have a look:

  11. Mary Lee,
    Thanks for sharing your stories with us. There are so many things to think about with implementing the degree of work that Alan is writing of-but the point is-who owns the learning? And like Cathy shared, the group owns the when we can support each other through both successes and failures that's what it's all about-not just about success, nor technology, nor roles-it's about the group learning together no matter if success or failure comes of it.

  12. Mary Lee-
    I loved reading your post, right from the opening quote. Building an audience takes time, I have found just as our flow with our audience is steady its summer break...if the teachers remain at your grade level then these connection get begin earlier and more fluently the next year. But, as you referenced being a commenter is as much work as the writing of a post. I find myself working the back channel feverishly to open these connections (via twitter) for my kids. It's time well spent and worth its weight in gold!

  13. Mary Lee,
    "Every voice speaks with the same volume." I think this has been one of my favorite pieces of blogging in our classroom. I have realized in the years since beginning how much blogging levels our classroom. It seems to being quieter students up in the community as they have time to share their thoughts and opinions.

    You are so right abut the power of audience, but I was really struck by your conversation of being an audience. How do we help students understand the significance of their role as audience? How do we help them to know how to comment effectively? So much to consider.

    Thanks for keeping me thinking,


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