Saturday, September 1, 2012

Accidental Learning...On Purpose.

Last school year I started a research project teaching students how to use the iPod Touch and various flip cameras to shoot videos and then iMovie to create and post videos online documenting their learning.  I originally thought that parents or family members might enjoy watching their kids at work in science, math, social studies or reading.  I soon discovered that as students spent time editing and preparing their videos they were engaged in higher level thinking as they debated what footage to include to best explain the concepts they were learning about.  Students who had previously found it hard to edit and revise their written work were engaged in editing for content, talking about how to create the best video they could make.  I began the project with an idea of what the benefits and outcome would be and what happened was something different, and perhaps better.  This year I added a Twitter account to my classroom's online presence.  Once again, as I began I thought that perhaps parents would want to tune in and follow what we're doing in the classroom.  This year already I'm finding many different learning possibilities beyond my original ideas.  I've had students acting as classroom reporters photographing and tweeting about what they think is important in our learning.  We're starting to look at issues of communication and broadcasting to the larger world, we're talking about what's the best way to show what we're learning, thinking about what are the most important things we're doing.  The biggest difference this year is that I'm expecting to learn things that I hadn't counted on.  I'm approaching this learning experience in a different way.  I've begun to see my work as setting up situations that are filled with possibility and following the paths of learning that pour out of the situation.  It makes me think about all the learning we're engaged in during the school day.  How much of the work we do with students is narrowly focused on delivering information with a specific result in mind?  How open are we to student's learning taking off in different directions than what we planned for?  A lot of school curriculum is presented as being able to deliver a particular result, and there's many times when it makes sense to learn a specific skill, for example how to multiply two digit by two digit numbers.  What I'm learning to appreciate is that there is often a lot more learning that goes on outside the confines of "What we're supposed to learn" and just as important is "What we might learn that we haven't even imagined yet".

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