As we settle into another school year and begin building our plans, units, and sequences, I feel like this is an opportune time to visit the notion of valuing the learning process equally (or more so) than the end product. As a classroom teacher, I often struggled with assessing the process. In fact, I’m not proud to say that I allowed that one hiccup to get in the way of developing certain innovative classroom projects. In the end, the grade book was the valued (and solo) method of communicating strengths, stretches, and gaps for both the teachers and the administrators. And, the parent community expected it. So, how can we shift not only our instruction but our school culture to embrace process?
Capturing Student Reflections Online
Knowing what your options are tends to makes the leap towards process-value a bit easier to manage. There are several platforms and medias to help students capture their voice in the moment that the learning occurs. Here are a few that come to mind:
- Traditional Blog: A regularly updated website that the students contribute to in order to share longer reflections in a conversational manner
- Microblog: A short, online reflection that is shared to a larger audience and captures in-the-moment thoughts and events (ie. Twitter, Google+, Padlet, etc)
- Vlog: A video blog that captures the voice and person as well as the reflection using a web camera – often hosted and shared online
- Podcast: An audio recording of a reflection that can vary in length and is hosted and shared using online audio tools and platforms
- Voice Memos or Threads: A short audio recording of a reflection that is shared via email or a web tool platforms (ie. Voicethread, Vocaroo, etc)
Engaging Process Using a Blogging Technique
Now that we have established different ways to capture the learning process, the questions all revolve around what, how, and who? Obviously, knowing your objective is key. There are several lessons and projects that lend themselves to these tools.
- In-the-Moment Research Reflections: Have students research and record their wonderings and questions using a microblog format like Padlet. Students can post onto a shared and controlled online bulletin board and also link other students to online videos and websites that further capture their curiosities. (classroom subscription available)
- Weekly Learning Logs Across All Subjects: Empower your students to share the day-to-day events and learning in your classroom with their families by hosting a weekly vlog that students design and create. This could be a nice alternative or addition to a weekly newsletter and models the learning process beautifully for parents. (Try hosting a classroom YouTube channel and have parents subscribe to it1)
- Character and Historical Figure Diaries and Journals: Invite students to become a character or historical figure and post their thoughts, feelings, struggles, and goals in a podcast or voice memo. This could also translate well to a written format.
- Scientific Inquiry & Hypothesis Building: Students can capture science experiments using a camera and record their voice walking through the steps of the process. This is a great way to get students flipping their own learning and sharing with their peers on a classroom website.
The big ideas to take away from all this talk about blogging and process-valuing are: CREATE, SHARE, and MODEL. If you are truly eager to make cultural changes in your learning space, these are great ways to get peer teachers, administrators, and families on board and honoring the learning process for the foundation to success that it truly is.