More and more examples of ways that students are using Read/Write Web technologies to teach are cropping up all over the place. And when you think about it, it shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s what audience does, right? It provides a forum, an opportunity to share something that you know with an eye toward helping the reader understand it better as well. That’s what good blogging does; it teaches. It attempts to enlighten or engage by bringing something new be it idea or perspective or experience to the conversation. Sure, we can have many purposes for blogging (archiving, socializing, linking,) but doing so with a mind to in some way enlighten a reader brings a clear and demanding purpose to the work. So when we reframe our goals in the classroom to include having our students teach as a way to learn, we make an important shift, one that we as educators all know the power of. Very few experiences allow us the opportunity for deep learning as well as being asked to teach that learning to someone else.
This example from Bob Sprankle’s Room 208 kids is just one example. The podcasts his students are making are no doubt aimed at teaching, and this video teaches us how to make those podcasts that teach. In fact, at one point, one of the young men in the video talks about how important that whole process is. There is purpose to the work, much more than just getting a grade. Think about the process that these students undertook to make this video happen. And think about why they did it. And finally, think about the learning. While good teachers have been doing this type of work in the past with limited audience, the expanded readership (or viewership) that the Web now affords makes it even easier to integrate as a part of regular classroom practice.
We talk a lot about creating lifelong learners. What if we thought more about creating lifelong teachers? Would the learning be a natural outcome? Would the learning be deeper? Would our learners be more passionate if they were asked to share their learning with others?
Jeff Utecht says
Lifelong teachers, hmmmm. I don’t think that would be much of a jump. Isn’t teaching what we want our students to do every time they stand up in front of the class and give a presentation? Aren’t they ultimately teaching to the rest of the class? The focus, I guess, would have to be the way a teacher assessed. Instead of focusing on what the student learned, you would focus on what the student taught and did anybody learn anything. The room 208 podcast is an excellent example of teaching the process of teaching. What if you took your districts teacher evaluation form and used that as your scoring guide the next time a student gives a presentation? Knowledge of the subject, positive feedback, asks questions, and starts meaningful conversations. Indeed that would create a deeper learning environment.
A close friend said that our job as teachers was ‘teaching children to teach themselves’. I can see that using the new online tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc) can give us a new frontier to conquer. The challenge is teacher training – making all on our team truly comfortable with the possibilities. I forsee (at my school, anyway) a divide between the under 30 staffers and the rest of us. The older staffers need to see the real power and possibilities. They need to see that this is not another ‘edugimmick’ that will be discarded for next weeks new thing.