Last night’s amazing discussions about our field studies have brought me back to an essential question to help me grasp my field study. Taryn asked me how do I create a collaborative classroom? What do I do to help the students create a caring and safe environment for their learning?
A few thoughts from a colleague (AKA as an amazing mentor) I asked her what she sees I do. She said that I encourage the kids to be risk takers. I give them the opportunity to gain confidence in their own decision-making and learning. The students who “get it” become models for the other students.
Another colleague of mine, mentioned that I do not rely on pencil and paper activities. I use and modify lessons to make them big, enticing, and intriguing to engage the students.
I know for myself I like to have the students explore things before we discuss things in pairs and then in groups. I also spend a lot of time teaching listening skills to the students. I tend to use a lot of the same language during the day, in regards to how we behave towards each other. Now the kids are using it.
One thing I have noticed since I have been using the virtual classrooms and blogging, the parents have become more a part of our community. They are sharing with me and their kids in the blog and through discussions at home. The kids can not wait to go home and tell their parents what we blogged about today or what they decided to blog about.
Thinking of the classroom community in relation to technology I keep going back to the media literacy outlines we had to look at. Mine was peer-to-peer learning. I think in order to fully engaged the students in each other’s learning and development of ideas we need to remember to start at the basics. The students need to understand hw to interact with one another face to face. They need the tools to be able to listen and how to discuss. I have spent about four months with my class on those skills. I am now seeing it pay off. I honestly did not think that the way I set up my intermediate classroom community would work so well in setting up the primary classroom community. I am so proud of the students. Everyday I take time to sit and observe them during explorations or an activity and I see how far they have come. How much they are teaching each other. How often they think of one another before themselves. Of course we have a few who are still on the “me mode” but we are getting there.
Allowing the kids to explore not only in lessons, but also in their creation of the classroom community is inspiring.