Stretching the boundaries and listening to the kids.

Standard

The laptop learning journey continues. Year 10 and I have explored using the BlogEd further. We used the ‘article of the week’ idea and linked it to the novel we are studying, Guitar Highway Rose. The unit is The Human Condition and I’ve paired the novel with Taming of the Shrew. Each fortnight I am posting a related online article and some ‘starter’ questions. The choice of articles are related to significant themes in the novel and later in the play.

An example:

I linked to an article on “Growing up Saudi, Part 1 Boys” that explored the constraints these young people face and some very underground acts of ‘rebellion’. The blogpost was titled “courtship, dating and rebellion” (The links to the novel and play should be obvious). Here is my post:

Rosie clearly likes Asher. Asher is not so sure about Rosie. Still, there is some kind of connection if they are prepared to run away together, even for a few weeks. Read the article Growing up Saudi, Part 1 Boys This article is about expectations. How do the Saudi boys fulfill expectations and rebel at the same time?   Do you think Rosie and Asher are fulfilling society’s expectations of the way teenagers react by running away? What kinds of expectations does your family have of your behaviour? Are the Saudi boys rebelling in any way? What do you think they would think about Rosie and Asher running away together? What do you think about Rosie and Asher running away together?

Th kids responded in some interesting ways. It did generate a discussion that got deeper as it went on.  We’ve found that this task doesn’t work so well as homework, so we have a blog session at least once a week where everyone gets on line and ‘blog comments’.  We put it up on the IWB as well which seems to encourage students to join in more and allows kids without their laptop to comment – they get to use this IWB. I’m waiting to see if as they become more confident they will check into the blog from home or at other times. The class also decided that comments had to be a certain length (at least five lines). This arose from students noting that other students were just agreeing with comments and didn’t really add much to the discussion. I plan to return to the Saudi article on girls later when we are looking at Taming of the Shrew. I’ve also found it useful to send a group email when I’ve posted. We’ve decied to try the blog out during term 2 and then evaluate. We may continue or try something else in Term 3.

In using the laptops every lesson I am constantly checking with the class on the meaningfulness of the tasks we are doing. Kids are starting to tell me when we need some ‘techno’ training with something I may have assumed they can all do. The kids are doing a reading assignment on the novel at the moment where I’ve given them choices and suggested ways they could use the software or internet sites to ‘deliver’ their work. I keep stressing that I’m learning how to do this laptop thing as I go along. This task is due soon and the kids have to email me a word attachment with web links, written work or images. One of them finally asked if I could show her how to email an attachment, so next lesson I’ll do a demo on the IWB for those who need it.

I’ve been reflecting on the change in my role and management strategies to put into place to accommodate the change in my role. If I’m not careful I can end up being “all over the room” as kids ask for help with a wide variety of things. So one strategy I’m starting to put unto place is coaching each other. I’ve always done this but now I’m implementing ‘Ask three before me”. This naturally leads to more student movement in the room. I’m enjoying being “in” the room with the kids, rather than out the front which is where I normally direct the lesson from. Incidentally the IWB actually made me more out the front than usual! The kids are also offering to ‘show’ how to do things at the IWB.

How about you? Have you some interesting/amusing/useful laptop insights to share?

About lyntiernan

I teach kids. Mostly English but sometimes good manners, how to have fun learning, that you are never too old to learn something new, that we all make mistakes and what we do about mistakes is who we become, that the future is not some place we are going to but a place we are creating and... I like learning and adapting new technology in the classroom I'm good with my new IWB, websites and email but hopeless with mobile phones!

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