Thinking back to my first blog post that I wrote for this course, I realize that it took my HOURS from the time I began writing to the time that I hit Publish. I was writing for an authentic audience, but the group, the expectations, and the stakes were unfamiliar to me still. As the weeks have passed, I truly feel that the other voices of #ED677 have come out through your own posts and I have come to be familiar with them. In turn, these weekly posts have become easier and easier.
One of my small moves, in an attempt to bring principles of connected learning into my classroom, for next year is to create a class and students blogs that aggregate in the exact same way our class and personal blogs are connected. When facilitating this project for my students, I need to remember my own initial reservations when I began the same experience.
This semester, my inquiry questions took the shape of the two below:
How do I combine language-learning with play that reflects 21st Century problem solving skills? What does this learning community look like?
How do I use the principles of shared purpose and creativity to help my students view our diversity as our common asset?
These questions have ultimately led me to thinking about how I can give my students the power of voice. As part of the ESL community, they have powerful, invigorating, and unique voices that they share within our classroom. However, they go unheard outside of our walls. Therefore, my final make this semester will be a final project for my current ESL class, which will be asking them to each write an article for a class magazine. This idea was 100% inspired by our course reading on Meeno Rami’s class magazine, (SLA)ng. My students have been exploring the following questions: Whose voices do we hear in the news? How do we determine if one voice is more reliable than another? Thus, I see it as extremely appropriate to now give THEM the literal power of voice to become one of these voices we hear in the news.
As we tackle this project, I will be cultivating a sense of shared purpose as we join together to create a magazine that represents all of us. I will also be encouraging that they honor their interests, as I have left the topics of their articles completely up to them. (Although I have already generated a list of topics to mention in the direction of several students, namely a sports article on the school baseball team, a music review, a fictional short, and a Summer fashion guide.) Furthermore, before they begin writing, they will have to research what has already being said about their topic. Market research here is not going to be found in any library database, but instead in the Twitter feeds of people who they follow related to their topics, in their favorite blogs, and from the recommendations of the peers around them. Finally, my students will have to fight their fears and get creative; the format of the magazine is up to them. It will be a daunting task, but isn’t that the first ingredient for creativity?
One the day of their final, students will use that time to share the link of their magazine via their social media platforms. Our Superintendent has a very active Twitter account, and he can expect to be tagged in some of our tweets with the magazine link!