This month's portfolio work looked a little bit different than that of the previous months. Instead of just a personal reflection, peer feedback was given.
Each student was able to choose the piece to include for March. They were able to link in that work to their own Padlet Wall. Then, they wrote a short personal reflection. The main focus was on giving peer feedback to their classmates. Students were able to navigate to the Padlet's of their friends and then "SAY SOMETHING NICE & GIVE SOME ADVICE." We talked about how feedback is two-fold, containing both a compliment and then some wisdom for growth. The entire Padlet wall (with their work, reflection, and peer feedback comments) was then linked into their portfolios.
Our kids were familiar with the tool Padlet as a student posting participant, but they really enjoyed creating their own canvas walls. They loved choosing the background and engaged with many different tech skills (copying and pasting links, screenshotting, reformatting the design of their slide & more). Giving peer feedback is a critical life skill and one that our kids need continuous practice with. The idea of "Say Something Nice, Give Some Advice" seemed to be a nice framework for students to communicate in a structured way.
The loss of control may have a negative connotation, but what I share with you today completely changes the overall idea of this notion.
Student Led Classrooms are all the rage. In order for true empowerment, ownership, and authentic learning, our kids need to be in the driver's seat.
KEEP IN MIND.... THIS IS NOT EASY!
Think about the way classrooms have BEEN and are currently portrayed. The "go-to" Image/idea is teacher in front of the classroom with students listening, applying, etc. There is indeed a time and place for this. I will say, that many of our teachers are beyond this- kudos to them. It is not uncommon here for someone to walk in the room and students to be about the room, working independently or collaboratively with the teacher as the "guide on the side" or as more of a facilitator.
However, I have to brag about the courage of our 5th Grade students and our 5th Grade teachers. Instead of the teachers leading the math lesson on surface area, three fifth graders were given the opportunity to build and then implement the lesson for their peers. We're talking write a lesson plan, make copies of practice, teach the content, answer questions, and overall, were in complete control of the lesson. What a powerful learning experience for not only these kids, but for their peers as well!
It takes a huge willingness to give up control on the teacher's part here to put it in the hands of students. And... right before the high stakes PARCC testing? This is true understanding of the gravity of student led instruction. The more our students are empowered, the more their learning skyrockets.
After all... "our job isn't to prepare our students for something. Our Job is to prepare them for ANYTHING." The sky is the limit!
Our First Graders created Math Screencasts anchored around the standard of Expanded Form. They used a virtual Manipulative Site (Shout out To the Math Learning Center) to physically show their thinking as they explained the mathematical genius inside their brains. Talking through the problem helped the kids think on a deeper level. In a sense, they were to "teach" someone else how to break down a number using expanded form. This is a bit of an uncomfortable experience for the kids at first as talking out loud and being so explicit with thinking can be nontraditional. However, nontraditional and uncomfortable = growth! What a great and unique formative assessment!
After our first screencasts, students listened to their own and reflected on their work. Together, a student sample was shared and discussed. The students picked apart all of the little elements in the model screencast and talked about why the shared screencast was an effective showing of understanding (using the word because, no dead space, including math language, short and concise explanations, narrating every action, etc).
Then, the students had another opportunity to create a screencast. Their second one was miles better. Perhaps the most valuable piece was then putting them side by side in their digital portfolios and recording the growth that occurred. This powerful task involved deep reflection and critical evaluation on the part of each first grader. They were super excited to share their pride and how much they had improved from their first video.
Want more information or details? Just ask!
PS- See a previous blog post on Virtual manipulatives.