Lights, Camera, Active Learning!
Discussion of Padlet Activity:
The padlet that I created can be viewed in the image above or accessed through this link. The blog that I accessed for this padlet was designed for a classroom of students to communicate with a peer who was off on a "new adventure". This new adventure was a movie that he was hired to act in. The students posted their comments, reactions, and questions for their peer who was enjoying his new experience as an actor in a film. When the acting student had a moment, he posted his responses and pictures of his experience on and off set for his classmates to see. This blog is an example of active learning because the students are leading and interacting discussion with other peers, the teacher facilitates conversations among students, and the discussions are relevant and engaging for students. They are learning about real world experiences while practicing their writing and questioning skills. Through this blog, students were able to learn about real world experiences through a peer rather than a teacher!
Why is Active Learning (in relation to this blog) Important?
Tim Elmore discusses how and why the younger generation has been defined by technology in his book called Generation iY. In fact, Elmore explains that this generation of learners can be described as "participatory", meaning that Generation iY is constantly "invited to upload their thoughts all of their lives. They expect to do it at school and work as well. They want to express themselves, to learn through dialogue, and participate fully in the outcomes of where a program is going. The blog discussed in my padlet allowed students to do exactly this. They were not learning specific academic content, but they were learning about how to express themselves and participate in dialogue with peers in order to bring relevance to learning. Students are so dependent on social media and communication through devices in their personal lives, so it makes sense to allow opportunities for students to participate in similar experiences in school.
Connection to my Teaching:
I have not used blogs with my students yet, mostly due to my concern for internet safety, but it is something that I definitely hope to try at some point. My classroom is travel-themed, so for fun, I have students participate in a few pen pal experience with international classrooms. Thus far, I have done mostly "snail mail" letters with international classrooms in which students write hand-written letters to students from the class that we are paired with to learn more about that countries' cultures and traditions. The students love this because they are able to express themselves through writing, learn about other cultures, and communicate with peers from around the world. I help to edit and check to make sure the writing is appropriate and on topic, but other than that, the communications and learning occurs through the students themselves. The students get to ask and answer questions with their pen pals, making their learning experiences unique and relevant to their wants and needs. I would love to go digital with this since our school has recently adopted 1:1 devices. Blogs may be a way to modify this learning experience in a way that this generation can relate to more.
Inspiration for Improvements in Digital Active Learning:
The video found in this link inspires me to incorporate more active learning through means of social media in my own classroom. This educator explains that her students have grown up with the internet their entire lives and they have access to devices such as iPhones and iPads in their homes, so it does not make sense to tell students to power down when they come to school. This connects to the ideas discussed previously about Generation iY by Elmore. The students in this video are actively learning through blog posts which serve as a digital portfolio of their learning that they can look back on and self-assess their own progress throughout the year and from year to year. I also though it was interesting how this educator uses Twitter in her classroom in order to communicate with each other as well as international "blog buddies". This is another potential option that I can look into when modifying my pen pal experiences to make them more digital. I would love to chat with this teacher on how she created a classroom Twitter for her students to utilize in a safe way. I do not know much about Twitter personally, so I would need to do more research to ensure that there is a safe and appropriate way for students to use Twitter in an ethical way for learning purposes.