We are approaching the final weeks of our project. My third grade class did a mid-term evaluation of our progress, and we had a great discussion about how we are meeting our learning targets in reading, writing, collaboration, communication, problem solving, global awareness and digital literacy. We ended our discussion with expressions of gratitude for our learning through The Week in the Life Project.
This project-based learning experience has helped us see the important connections between what we are learning at school and how it will be applied in the real world. We each, teachers and students, have actual deadlines and individual responsibilities in our global learning teams. As we explore together the topics of school time, leisure time, language, housing, transportation, environment, celebrations, food and clothing, we realize how we deepen our understanding through research and inquiry and discussion with others. We are seeing how collaboration and communication skills broaden our ability to learn and open up new possibilities. It makes what we do at school each day matter, and it helps us see how we are connected through the things we all have in common as concerned world citizens.
Our learning curve has been steep with the web 2.0 tools Voki, Edmodo, and Popplet and Voicethread and Blackboard Collaborate, but we notice how we enjoy the challenge of learning something new each week. As an online, social learning network, Edmodo has been a great way to communicate ideas and have conversations around our learning with our global learning teams. We are using focused reading as a high leverage learning strategy as we practice reading for meaning, and locate and extract information from text online. We have been using our blogging skills to work on conventions (spelling and punctuation), and organization, which are important learning targets in writing. We are seeing results as our comments and posts are improving. We are growing in our understanding of how to use blogging as an observation and reflection tool.
As an online mind map or idea web, Popplet has been a great tool to organize ideas and to collaborate with others. iMovie and Voki are creative tools we used to create a virtual “handshake”. They helped us introduce ourselves and our school to others, and build relationships with students and schools too distant to visit.
Our final project will be a Voicethread. Voicethread allows students to have a discussion online around pictures and videos they select to represent their topics. They are practicing the rules of dialogue, which require strong listening skills, the ability to formulate their own opinions and to justify their thinking. Students begin to experience how real learning takes place at the moment they begin to find their own voice, and to value both their own opinions, as well as those of others in the pursuit of knowledge. In December they will use Blackboard Collaborate, an online conferencing tool, to participate in a student summit where they will reflect on their learning during the project with other students around the globe.
These are 21st century skills: skills that students will need to be successful in the global society they are growing up in. The effort we have given to learning these skills along with the information and communication tools has helped us build our growth mindset as well as academic stamina and grit as we problem-solve together around our project goals.
We are teachers and students who want to make a difference in our world. We know we can do this when we reach out to others around the globe to share our common interests and concerns and build bridges of understanding between us. The Week in the Life project has given us this opportunity. It has also shown us what technology integration should look like. In this season when we give special focus to the things we are grateful for, we want to acknowledge the opportunity we have each day to learn with and from each other, as well as to be inspired by the learning all around us.
Stafford Primary School