It’s year two in the Idea Hive, and the learning continues for our students. The seasoned gr. 8 students (our 7’s from last year) seemed to pick right up from where we left off in June. As my teaching partner, Clarence Fisher, wrote in a previous post, these students have got “Skillz”. Similar to last year, we continued to foster the connections between our students through an Interest Survey and Flickr photo contest.
As we move towards a shared read aloud of the novel Half Brother, by Canadian author, Kenneth Oppel, our students have begun researching topics covered in the novel in order to better relate to the context: animal research, sign language, chimpanzees, and life in the 70’s, to name a few. Working in groups, two from Wingham, two from Snow Lake, they’re moving onto creating a shared Google Presentation, complete with the updated chat feature, which they’ll present to both classes via Skype.
While our students have become quite skilled at working together in a shared Google Doc, the skills required to create a shared Google Presentation needed some focus. Students struggled to agree on a number of issues including types of images, background themes, and the amount of text on a slide. New to this collaborative process, there were hick-ups and bumps, so we took some time to regroup as a class of 59. That included a shared class writing activity which we call the Knowledge Care document. Via Skype, our students shared their insight on what they need to consider and practice as they write and create together. We ended the call with guidance on how to apply these skills as they create their collaborative Google Presentation.
Clarence then spoke about the “Achievements” points that the Idea Hive students could earn through their activity in the Idea Hive site. The goal is to have our students strengthen their connections in this community. The more time our students interact with each other in this learning space, the more points they earn. After our call, I had my kids spend the last few minutes of the day adding a comment to the Passions forum where some of Clarence’s students had previously posted on their interest: music, pets, sports, hunting, and more. And once again, I had to beg my students to log off and head out for the bus home. However, this time it wasn’t just a few – it was the entire class.
And the day ended….or so I thought.
Two hours after the school day ended, one of my students began to write about his passion – hunting. He shared the doc with me, and after dinner when I discovered it, he was still writing. While this might not be unusual to some, it was particularly moving for me. This student struggles with writing, and has never seen himself as a writer. Yet clearly, he wants to share; he has a voice.
I wondered if the “Achievements” had something to do with this. And so I asked my student, “Can I share this doc with Mr. Fisher?”. He responded with the same drive that lead me to his doc in the first place, “What’s his email? I’ll share it with him myself”.
Within minutes, both Clarence and I, the Idea Hive teachers, were in the Google doc chat room with my student, guiding him as he looked for feedback.
Teaching in a collaborative classroom helps support our students in unexpected ways and in learning spaces and lesson times driven by our students. “Achievements” came in several different forms today. Are the mindsets of educators ready to recognize and value these different forms?
It’s year two in the Idea Hive, and the learning continues for me.
Your students are amazing. I love how your work in building this trusting environment between the two classes, has allowed reluctant students to engage and actively participate. I’d love to see this in action. Can I get in on this somehow?
Thanks, Alana and Shadi, for your kind words and interest. I too want my students to meet you both, in the classroom or via skype. We will come up with a purpose and a plan!
Heather, I love this post! Your kids are so engaged and learning so much–about content as well as the process of learning. And they are clearly enjoying it. You and Clarence provide a great model for the rest of us.
Thanks, Susan, and please know, I haven’t forgotten who my mentor was. I “cut my teeth” on collaborative projects with you, and I recall fondly how engaged our students were. In fact, I think it’s time for another “ice-cream sundae” celebration!
You and your students are a HUGE inspiration. I love reading about the “Idea Hive” and learning so much from you. It’s wonderful to read technology being used in a way to support students and their learning. As @alanna29 has mentioned, I too wish I could somehow be part of this incredible collaborative team.