6 Chapters
Medium 9781935542575

5. The Student as Global Communicator and Collaborator

Alan November Solution Tree Press ePub

In a continuous effort to help my adult children find ways to market themselves to potential employers, I often ask my corporate clients, “What do you value? What are the most important skills you look for in your employees?” When working in London for one of the largest banks in the world, I asked the CEO this question, and he gave me his answer in one word: “Empathy.” He went on to say that his company invests in very complicated, very expensive projects, some involving hundreds of people from many different countries, and involving billions of dollars. “To manage complex projects like these, we need people who can understand other points of view,” the CEO explained. He added that, in his experience, Europeans are good at valuing multiple perspectives, Africans are pretty good at it, too, and the Chinese are improving. How does the United States fare in this ranking? The CEO told me, “Americans are often inexperienced in valuing other culture's perspectives. Top global talent must understand and value other peoples' points of view. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans think, ‘If the world doesn't look like us, it's broken.'”

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Medium 9781935542575

6. Joining Forces in Purposeful Work: The Legacy of Student Contribution

Alan November Solution Tree Press ePub

In each of the preceding chapters, we have seen the educational power and motivational force of purposeful work and student contribution in the classroom. We learned how Eric Marcos and his sixth-grade class have leveraged the benefits of students teaching students as they explore the possibilities of students as tutorial designers. We looked at the work of Darren Kuropatwa's high school math class in creating and collecting course notes and diagrams on its own educational blog as we examined the job of student scribe. Finally, we learned how Silvia Tolisano and her colleagues have linked their students with other learners, educators, and topic experts around the globe in the rich experience of becoming global communicators and collaborators. Individually, these jobs offer students exceptional learning benefits, but their true power for creating 21st century learners comes together in a Digital Learning Farm model that embraces all of these opportunities for student contribution. But what would that model look like, and how would it work?

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Medium 9781935542575

4. The Student as Researcher

Alan November Solution Tree Press ePub

What if that unused computer at the back of the classroom became the official research station where one student each day was responsible for finding answers to questions in class—including the teacher's questions? What if students were better trained to vet the information they find so their research could be more useful to them and to the entire class? All of these outcomes are possible when we incorporate the job of student researcher into our educational model. Let me tell you about an experience that helped me understand the important implications for this role in the Digital Learning Farm.

I was once invited to visit a middle school that was in the same quaint seaside Cape Cod community as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. While I was working with Woods Hole scientists to organize a climate change conference for teachers, I was asked if I would visit the middle school to speak with one of its classes about climate change. When I reached the school, I was ushered into a computer lab filled with eager and very polite middle school students. What happened next caused me to rethink how we prepare our students to research the web.

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2. The Student as Tutorial Designer

Alan November Solution Tree Press ePub

If you question whether students are truly willing to do the work necessary to make real and substantial contributions to the learning experience, consider the story of Jasmine, a student in Eric Marcos's sixth-grade class in Santa Monica, California.

One afternoon, Jasmine's mother was surprised that her daughter was not waiting in front of the school for her usual ride home. When twenty-five minutes had passed, Jasmine's mother went into the school to look for her. She stopped one of her daughter's friends who was on her way out the door and asked if she knew where Jasmine was. “Yeah,” the girl said, “she's in the math room working on a tutorial for the class.” Jasmine's mother headed right to the math room, where she found her daughter totally focused on adding music to the intro of what looked like a movie about solving some kind of math problem.

Jasmine's mother said, “What are you doing? I've been waiting in the car for thirty minutes.” The girl briefly glanced up before looking back at her work. She said, “Sorry, Mom, I have to get this right. Everyone in class will be able to use this video to learn how to factor with prime numbers. I need another hour. Can you come back then?”

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3. The Student as Scribe

Alan November Solution Tree Press ePub

In any given class, can you count on all students to take good notes? Do some students struggle in a frantic attempt to record every detail, or seem to draw a blank when identifying the important information in new material? Darren Kuropatwa, a math teacher from McIntyre Collegiate High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has developed a solution to this common classroom problem. In his daily scribe model, students produce shared notes. While all the students can take their own notes, the student scribe collects, organizes, and edits a draft of the notes. Darren works with that student to ensure that the details are accurate, and then moves the approved notes to the class blog for use by all students. The Digital Learning Farm job of student scribe follows this same model.

The student scribe work represents low-hanging fruit for educators and students alike. There is very little technology to learn; student scribes can do their work in Google Docs or any of a wide range of online word processing programs, and teachers need only a simple website where they can post the notes for review. Teachers who don't have a class website can even print and distribute hard copies of the notes to the class. In any form, the process of creating and publishing these shared notes offers students a number of benefits. They become better at synthesizing informationinto ideas, and they learn important skills in collaborating, communicating, organizing, writing, and critical thinking. Best of all, the work can be a lot of fun for the teacher and students alike.

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