By Ivy Waite, grade 9 Humanities
What I initially envisioned and what has come to fruition are two different things. I expected that in the classroom our novel inquiry would entail groups determining (through recorded round table conversations) what they believed to be the most important element to focus on, for the section of the novel being examined that week, before exploring the idea through blog posts.
In reality, I quickly realized two things: 1. This activity has limited opportunities for engagement, and 2. Not all students are equally prepared for this type of independent literary analysis.
The solution? Weekly team challenges that are designed to authentically engage students while requiring that they consider the literature more deeply, and weekly individual blog posts exploring different areas of the novel.
Student work is shared through Blogger, which has enabled students to share their work easily with one another, with both grade 9 humanities teachers, and with the world. When their work has an authentic, real audience, it becomes more meaningful and rich. That work would be shared on the web also opened up a conversation about academic excellence and has led to the creation of rich and impressive content. Student work can be viewed through The Scorpion Project main page, under the Student Blogs list.
I wanted this project to challenge students to use technology as a tool to help them take their insight and understanding to a new level. I saw Twitter as one way for students to share observations and questions about the novel with their groups in order to stimulate rich conversations surrounding the novel. Twitter forces student’s to be succinct and to make sure that their words matter. Check out how the student’s are utilizing social media to aid in inquiry here: @IvyWaite!
As the unit unfolds it is growing beyond what I had initially intended, and becoming more rich as a result. Collaborating with my teaching partner has taken my vision to a new level, and feedback from the students has helped to ensure that the project is engaging and meaningful for them. As we plan to assess student work it is becoming clear that we will not be able to mark each and every piece of writing. Rather, a balance of formative and summative assessment – clearly focused on the insight that students are demonstrating – will be necessary to ensure that this is manageable.
If you would like to be involved with The Scorpion Project as a judge of final work, please email [email protected], or Tweet @IvyWaite!