You can take a look at my action plan reflection and summary here:
All that is Gold : The Plan
My Action Plan: Engaging students in deep reading of literature using digitally native technology.
Did it work? YES!
After my students and I co-designed designed study tools, coming up with: Crash Course-style Youtube video to treat T.S. Eliot Poems; Instagram scripts and videos to treat Hamlet (and make it 5 minutes long); and Student Led Critical question seminars through Google Hangouts on Air, they had familiar tools to work with and a real live audience to perform for. They also had to use deep literary analysis to produce these tools, which were (as they stated a need for) relevant to studying for their IB English exams in May.
After I switched my teaching and we started to perform first time read-throughs IN CLASS , they became more confident in engaging with the literature. They’re even preparing Google Hangouts on Air, after school hours, to create permanent video study-aids for their peers!
It went very well.
All Those Who Wander: Student Reflections
Yes, the students caught on that I was tricking them into engaging with the literature. One student wrote : “There should have been more time to develop the social-media study tools. But overall it was a good way to disguise our studying in a creative manner” – Hm. More time, eh?
Another student wrote: “Seminars after school are good because you are able to watch the answers to the essay questions at any time. Also, when presenting the answer to a question, you learn a lot more about a text.” – So, they want permanent tools to access to study for the exams, but they also appreciate the learning they had to do.
A third student wrote: “We were able to incorporate themes and motifs from the poem and the overarching information that people needed to know to read the poem and understand it.”, referring to T.S. Eliot, which they had previously deemed inaccessible.
But this fourth student really got me thinking:
“We managed to run a very funny condensed version of Hamlet via Twitter (90% complete). We worked hard to try to keep our group on task, but they seemingly did not care about both the project and the group.” Their version of Hamlet, arranged by ACT for ease of consultation, can be accessed here. It is hilarious. It served as the back bone for much of the Hamlet Instagram Script. As you can see, though, the whole group did not participate. This was the catalyst for my own reflection on the project.
Do Not Wither: My Reflections
Collaboration: While the students produced excellent results, the reflections which addressed group dynamics and participation caught my attention. Next time, I would scaffold authentic collaboration into the tasks. In fact, I plan to learn more about authentic collaboration through the summer in order to do just that next time.
20% Time: They wanted more time to perfect and complete their research and products. Next time, I plan to build in 20% time and have them create the tools throughout the year, so they’re not cramming last minute. Since I now have the answer to my action plan research question, I know this will help them engage deeply with the literature early on in the course.
Out-of-Classroom Experience: I was unprepared for the level of positive feedback I received for the Google Hangouts On Air tutorials. Students have requested more of these since we officially finished the project. Here is one I led going over the structure of their paper 2 exam. It took a lot of effort to go through the protocols to get their faces on the internet (one “I can be on youtube” waiver, and another “external image release” waiver) , but once that was settled, it was easy-peasy. I will certainly be preparing these tutorials from the beginning of the year as well next year.
Deep Roots: A LEARNING PARTY!
Cohort 21 is a build your own PD – we have a general focus (21st century learning) and a task (create an action plan, and execute it if possible), but other than that, we are free to design professional development, research, and projects that suit our own unique classroom needs.
Not only that, but the constant collaboration, from twitter chats, to Hangouts, to Project Tuning Protocols, to fellow “Cohorters” attending your PD sessions, there is a network of encouragement and support throughout.
Finally, seeing what others are doing is invigorating! It has really encouraged me to continue in my plan and to use the work of others to help me reflect on my own.