In November and December, I wrote two rather lengthy reflective posts about efforts to help students take a more explicit inquiry driven, participatory stance on literacy and learning as well as digital composition; these were preceded by an October post about the use of the Fishbowl approach to giving students more ownership of class conversation and for developing their own lines of questions/inquiries/points for exploration with peers.
- Students Creating Conversations for Learning with the Fishbowl (October 2011)
- The Possibilities and Challenges of a Participatory Learning Environment: Students and Teachers Speak (November 2011)
- Midyear Reflections: Challenges of Supporting Student Digital Nonfiction Composition (December 2011)
This unit of study, which began with our book tasting in September 2011, was an extended inquiry into student selected issues that included child soldiers, treatment of women in the Middle East, immigration laws, the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, racial profiling, fear and prejudice in a post 9/11 world, and genocide. At the end of the semester, Susan Lester and I asked our students to reflect on their learning experiences with a series of questions and class time to compose their responses. Embedded below is a summary of student responses and some additional questions (that piggyback on those from the December blog post) for next semester. Susan and I are meeting this week together to brainstorm and explore the implications of this feedback as well as new strategies for learning and how to tweak some existing learning strategies; we’ll also meet with our students in class this week to discuss the feedback and to invite student opinion on their ideas for addressing some of the challenges as well as celebrate the progress and accomplishments of first semester. I’m excited to see how we can work together as a community of learners to build on our successes and find ways together to address some of the student identified challenges of these approaches to learning.
I’m interested in any thoughts or patterns you may notice, or if you are doing similar work, any ideas or insights you might have to share that will help all of us expand our thinking and improve the learning experiences we’re trying to create with our students.