The ThinWall Classroom which is predicated upon connectedness, networking and learning beyond our class walls changes everything. Over the last few days the students in
Today I had a few moments for reflection and I had a new revelation of just how powerful and exciting this kind of teaching/learning can be. For the first time I realized that we were doing something that we never could have done in a more traditional setting…..we could literally see the students think. When technology allows you to be connected to the students thinking and processing you can guide them to build essential skills in a way that was never possible before.
Here is what I mean. I taught at the Junior High level for many years. I did enumerable group projects which fell under the umbrella of “cooperative learning”. I was careful to make sure that each student had a specific part to complete and that the work was divided between all students. I walked around the room listening in for a minute or two as they planned,(of course while I stood over them they were very productive) I watched them work and I talked about timelines etc. But I am not sure I was really very effective in teaching any of them how to think a project through in a collaborative environment. I am not sure that they really respected one another or in some cases that the kids even listened to each other.
Now imagine you actually had a transcript of their discussions as we do with their IM chats. I not only get a momentary glimpse of what they do in school but a detailed look at all of their planning, discussion and thinking. If two students are taking over I can intervene right away. The students and I can look at the chat together and talk about how they came across and what would be a better approach and why. If they are not on target we can remediate. If they are having trouble with any part of the process we can see how they are thinking and give guidance.
Because we can see their thought processes we know what skills they need. It is an absolutely incredible moment. Yes, it means we are working hard but the opportunity to give the students the thinking skills, communication skills, planning skills, and talents they will need for ….well for the rest of their lives is an unbeatable experience.