Saturday, May 3, 2008

New View

Teaching could be compared to sailing a dinghy across the ocean. When the weather is good, teaching is fairly straight forward, but any change in the weather brings a totally NEW VIEW.

It's often the context of learning that causes a change in the weather that trips up our students. Until we guide them through the transfer of learning required, rowing our dinghy will be treacherous. Teachers may think they are rowing by themselves at first.

As teachers guide students through new learning vistas, students will help us by rowing the dinghy of knowledge through the rough waters. Soon they will zoom through the new learning venue like a precision rowing team. Because we are so proud of their accomplishments, teachers may forget how difficult the weather was and how the students almost swamped the dinghy in the rough weather of learning transfer.

Often, as teachers, we need to remind ourselves to be patient with ourselves, as well as our students. When we experiment and take risks, we will need to constantly evaluate our process and product, until we are happy with the results of good teaching and learning.

A very gracious colleague of mine, Gabriela Sellart, teaches her students to write in her EFL class. She is using a wiki, so students can collaborate in editing each others' work. While the student stories are interesting, my colleague was not satisfied with their collaboration. I thought this was a great project, and I know she will guide them through this storm. I believe that the teacher and students will all be very happy with the results.

I have quoted my comments on her blogpost, More on Collaboration. If you are interested in trying this excellent teaching/learning technique in your classes, check out Gabriella's blog and read more about her project. You will learn more about uses for a wiki and how to implement an interactive application that will improve student's writing, as well as your teaching.

Using a wiki to write and edit is an excellent idea. From your posting, I noted that the students wrote and did some editing. IMHO;D You should be very proud of your first effort with your students. In the beginning, participation is a plus. Some teachers try such an activity, and not all the students even participate.

You have analyzed your project startup and the student's ability to edit each others language and discovered that they can make the language corrections as a group. Using the wiki to survey the mistakes from their writing is probably the most powerful use of the wiki itself. By using a wiki, you have a history of changes and you can get an idea of their level of competence and participation. That was a great idea;D

When starting new projects, it is not unusual for students to "appear" to have lost some of their skills. IMHO, the skills are not lost, but need to be "reorganized" within the new format, por ejemplo, the wiki. They will improve each time you do this project, and I think within a few practices, you will be very happy with your students' progress.

I am very impressed with Gabriella's project, and I want to share it with you,my colleagues;D


murcha said...

What an interesting post. I love your analagies to sailing across the ocean. What you have said is so true. Often my journeys have been on a rough ocean but now that we are approaching calmer waters, with skilled student rowers, the enjoyment of participating and the desire to learn and improve skills is increasingly in evidence. I, as skipper can now relax, sit back and watch the students steer their education and direct towards their needs and curiousity levels.
The students and I are ready to set sail into further unchartered waters around the globe, to learn about the cultures of those destinations. Collaboration is now becoming a popular stopover, with so much to be gained from that experience and more and more of our staff and students (in our school and globally) are wanting to travel with us through these unchartered territories.

samccoy said...

Anne, thanks for the comment. I am glad you like the analogy, thinking of floating has always been my favorite thinking point to slow things down. You are doing fantastic work with your students, and I love to hear your stories.

Gabriela Sellart said...

Sorry for coming here sooo late.
Thanks a lot for your thoughts and wishes.
I think something that confuses my students is that what I call "collaboration" is usually regarded as "cheating" at school.