In the ensuing discussion we considered how we could make student-learning explicit.
My training in Action Research suggests that mindful learning will help with this process.
I am teaching thirty first-year students (about thirteen years of age) how to design websites using WordPress.
After the above discussion, I asked the students to try to articulate what they had learned (more towards process than product).
They found this difficult so we began to brainstorm the language they needed to describe what they had done to start to create their sites.
This language was vocabulary that got lost, as they “did” their website – words like: re-size, widget, dashboard, embed, post, URL, stat-counter, render and so on – the basic terminology of any blogging platform.
Once we got over the literacy “stumbling-block” I asked them to respond to the following posting on the class-blog “Lovelace – enchantress of numbers” - What have I learned so far?
What fascinates me is how some students, once they have described what the have done, then begin to express some thoughts about how they did it…beginning to reflect on their learning.
- The thing I was particularly interested in was adding new content and customising the site so it was easier to use nd better suited to the thing I wanted to use it for
- My favourite thing about doing the website was embeding the video of my mathematician into my website, i took a few attempts but i eventually got it (It helps if you copy all the HTML!)
- It was fun designing the website by changing the theme etc
- Trying to get the website to look neat took a long time because I had to see what the website looked like on mobile devices and computers.
- I often had to ask one of my friends…
- Through twitter i have got people from all arounmd the globe to look at my site
- I also learned how to add a comment on someone elses blog
- i liked changing my theme but it took a while to find a theme i liked
- it is quite easy to create a functioning website with low band width
- I think that the hardest thing that I will face in the future is when I start on the research…
- I found the HTML quite difficult as I find it hard to read code. I thought that it was fun to insert photos and videos from the internet and customise them to fit our website accordingly
- I found embedding the HTML a bit confusing at first but once I understood it I was fine and I found it quite interesting
I am making no great claims about the quality of the learning process in this posting, but it is interesting that students are prepared to articulate their experiences.
This particular project is in its early stages and there is a lot more work to be done with it. Essentially the students have chosen a person in history from the STEM subjects (Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology) that they will created a website / blog about.
It is not unlike some work I did a number of years ago, but the intention here is to generate a lot more conversation and user-generated content over their sites.
This is quite a challenge for many secondary school teachers who are configured in their understanding of teaching and learning by a model of terminal assessments. There is a fear amongst some that standards may slip. I believe however, that making learning (and indeed teaching) explicit, we can start a conversation around process, that can only see standards rise.
Its not just about “shiny” websites, its also about how we got there and our ability to express the journey!
Image Credit: Oregon State University Commons