I’m joining Patrick Higgins today via Skype for a workshop he’s conducting on web 2.0 for teachers in his district. The plan is for me to share the Vietnam Wall project that our English 3 AP students completed last spring, so I’ve been looking through my post about it, re-viewing some of the student projects, and looking at the wiki we created to support the project.
In looking back (and looking forward), I can see so much better how to work with the other teachers involved to deepen the project for the students and how to build more global connections and conversations into their work as well, so that their end products will be more varied and even more meaningful.
When we began the project, doing one on that scale was new to us, the tools were new to the students and teachers, and so we were learning as we went.
I can see now that what I have learned myself in the last four months would enrich my own approach to the project. And it feels rewarding to reflect on how I’ve grown.
What has gotten me to this point in my thinking? Time. Time to reflect. Time to do other things away from school. Time to travel, to visit museums, to see movies. Time to read what other teachers are doing in blogs and articles. Time to talk with other teachers (in person or over chat on Skype or in emails). Time to read books.
All of which brings me to this–how would building more time into things we do with students deepen their ability to step back from their work and evaluate it, rethink it, or view it differently–providing them with the “long view”? Do we provide them learning encounters with long stretches of time between them to allow that reflection to occur?
Are there ways we could ask students to go back later and reflect on a project from months ago, and evaluate it, via a blog or a learning journal or some reflective writing piece?
The standard format of school is that it tends to march inexorably on, towards the next project, or class, or test. How can we work to make learning in school more cyclical in an authentic way, one that is more reflective of our own “life-long” learning?
Image: Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Tx
Update: In taking the long view this morning, I looked back at some of the student video projects, and wanted to point out a few more well done ones, in terms of creating a theme, use of music background, or verbal storytelling. It’s interesting how some students’ voices are subtly reflected in the tone–either patriotic, or questioning the war, etc. (We did work with students generally on appropriate tone, given that the theme was to create a memorial.)
Update 2: During the Skype I realized that we had gotten several posts over the summer on the blog Joel set up after the project, several from Marines. It was really thrilling seeing the response and that the project was meaningful. (in addition to a few emails we’ve received.)