Students Taking Charge of Their Learning

ISTE Standard 2 for teachers addresses designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments. It focuses on customizing learning activities, using multiple and varied assessments, learning experiences that incorporate digital resources to promote learning and creativity, and environments that enable students to pursue their individual curiosities (ISTE, 2015). For this standard, I focused a lot on customizing education for each student as well as letting students become active participants in their own educational goals, and asked this question:

What technological resources are available to me to incorporate into my classroom that elementary students can use to become individual or collaborative producers of knowledge of their own choosing, including topic, project type, and form of assessment?

Initially, my question involved mostly just personalizing education for each student. I did some research on ways to incorporate this into my classroom, including project-based-learning (PBL), and a beta program called Knewton. However, after reading the articles for the standard this unit, I became more interested in how I could help my students become knowledge producers rather than knowledge consumers (Porter, 2010). I had a few ideas, but the one I thought fitted my question more was an idea I got from the Orlando (2011) article on using Wikipedia in the classroom. Though I didn’t necessarily want to use Wikipedia specifically, I really liked the concept of having students publish something on a topic of their choice, which people can then read. For younger students, I thought it would be more appropriate for them to have a more personalized class wiki, and so for my resource I chose Wikispaces.

wikispaces

In my future classroom, I would like to have my students access our class wiki on a regular basis. They would be able to write or create digital projects and post these within the wiki, and as a teacher I would also have access to each of their projects. I would also give choices on how students would like to complete certain projects, and also how they would like to be assessed. This way, they can use the knowledge they have to create their own goals, and they also were able to choose their own form of learning so they can discover what works best for them. Obviously, if something wasn’t working well for a student, then we would have to discuss a new method, but I think that giving students the choice in the first place allows them to feel more in control. A member of my learning circle, Jack, provided me with some interesting ideas on where to look for ideas about what to do with Wikis. I understand a little bit about how I could use them, but this is definitely a resource I need to explore a bit more. There are lots of different ways to use Wikis in the class, and I am excited to try them out!

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf

Orlando, J. (2011). Wikipedia in the Classroom: Tips for effective use. Teaching with Technology: Tools and strategies to improve student learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/wikipedia-in-the-classroom-tips-for-effective-use/

Porter, B. (2010). Where’s the beef? Adding rigor to student digital products. Learning and Leading with Technology. Retrieved from http://digitales.us/sites/default/files/Wheres-the-Beef-ISTE.pdf

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4 thoughts on “Students Taking Charge of Their Learning

  1. Meghan, I really like your stated desire of having your students be knowledge producers, rather than just knowledge consumers. As we learned from that Porter article, the skills students need to master today go beyond the simple repackaging of existing information and into the synthesis, evaluation, and creation of new information from the old. This is obviously quite an undertaking, but I like your ideas for incorporating Wikispaces into your classroom to help you meet this goal. I particularly think giving students a choice in how they will be assessed will be very beneficial.

  2. Megan,
    I think this is a cool way to create classroom community. Having a classroom page can create accountability for student projects. They will be motivated because they know that they will be sharing it with their classmates and it will be up on the internet. Even if they know the page is private, it is a new media for them.
    I love this resource, thank you!
    Kristen

  3. Hi Meghan- Thanks for your post! Like Jack, I think it’s really cool to encourage your students to be producers of knowledge rather than just consumers or learners… I think students sometimes can be discouraged by all that they don’t know and encouraging students to highlight what they DO know can be a powerful motivation strategy. How interesting! I will definitely be thinking of that as I am teaching the rest of this year, especially since first graders burn out easily and finding new ways to motivate them is tough. Just curious, what grade and in what kind of school do you hope to teach? Your students are lucky to have a teacher with such great ideas and consciousness of their individual strengths. 🙂

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