May 5, 2009

Sharing Student Learning Online

One of the district goals this year is: Teachers will increase student engagement and improve student achievement by focusing on instructional practices. This blog entry is a review of the work we have done at YES this year to post more student work online by using teacher web pages and blogs.

In a conversation with my building principal before the school year started we talked about efforts I might make to increase the use of teacher web pages to display student work and communicate with parents. The goal was to engage students in presenting learning to an audience of parents and family members. Specifically, I wanted to increase the number of teachers using class web pages and the involvement of students in creating content to display online. This year there has been an increase from 50% of classrooms displaying student work online to 80%. In addition to classroom teachers the Art and Music teachers have expanded the student presence on their web pages this year.

The initial impetus for this increase came from a faculty meeting dedicated to setting up and managing teacher web pages in September, 2008. The integrator from the Middle School came over and worked with a group who wanted to set up blogs and I worked with teachers who needed assistance with their FirstClass web pages. We left that meeting with all classrooms having an initial page established. Since then I have met with teachers before school, after school at lunch and during a few minutes of a schedule lab period to assist them with the web pages and blogs.

At each grade level the majority of teachers have posted photos, movies and student-created presentations of their learning. Some of the examples include:
Voicethread descriptions of Student Art are an example of postings Cam is doing with each grade
Audio clips of student songs for each class to support Music practice at home.
•A Voicethread on Laura Skowronkis's page describes their Arctic Sculptures
•Stephanie's photos, movies and voicethreads at the bottom of the page as are Kim's .
•Elke's first class Voicethread on Arctic Animals and she has photos with commentary as well.
•Carli's class read their Arctic poems and posted a recent play as well as photos of the year.
•Richard's everexpanding class blog has been going all year.
•Chris used her class blog to share plans with parents and she scans student work for display.
•Karin's class created biographies that are posted online in addition to an informational web page.
•Nicole started a blog this year to send home newsletters and information about the class.
•Gabe uses a blog to send home information on various pages.
•Nancy's student photographers made a Sugaring Time movie last week and they have been using an Observation Blog this year.
•Mary Jo has used her web page for the past two years to list upcoming events and curricular links.
•Renee's class created slideshows about inventions that created a freedom and they have maintained a class blog.

Many of these links will not stay active as teachers will take them down to make room for next year's classes, but for now they are wonderful audiovisual representations of student learning. The pride students exhibit when they hear that their work is on the Internet is palpable in the room and it is fun to hear them talk of sharing it with their families.

Next year I would like to work on moving some of the static content that is consistent across the classes into a grade level wiki that could be linked to each teacher page. I would like to continue to expand the multimedia projects that students post online. A couple of teachers and I are looking at possibilities for expanding student communication and collaboration by sharing blog entries across classes and possibly in other countries.

May 2, 2009

New Media Literacies Conference at MIT

Check out the New Media Literacies Ning announced at a conference held at MIT today. The ning is shown below: