Students Teaching Students

If you were able to attend #ISTE2014 you know that it was an amazing conference. One of the sessions that has caused me to think differently was Alan November’s First Five Days“. I would share my notes with you, but Katrina Swartz wrote a great blog post that summarized the ideas that serve as a starting point for a new partnership in her Mindshift blog post.   

Here are three quotes that resonated with me from November’s session:

  • “Kids will overestimate what they know – they just ‘Google it’.”
  • “When kids search, they don’t ask themselves what they are missing.”
  • “The weakest link of allthat we are NOT doing – instilling a discipline and a rigor and knowledge of grammar and syntax of the tool they are going to use more than anything else…”

I sat there listening to November’s ideas and my mind immediately started racing in regards to how we can support both students AND teachers. It was about this point that November shared this nugget of brilliance:

Build capacity for every student to be really good at asking questions and finding their own information. (1) Teach kids how to search in your field (2) Give challenges to build capacity not to give up – have kids try it over and over 

This is the point where the project idea just fell into place.

Enter Liberty High School Library Media Specialists:  Chris Anderson and Glory Fagan and their amazing DI5 team of senior boys:  Daniel, Alec, Caleb, Michael and Tim (DI5 = Digital Innovations which is a 5 member project based learning team)

Project Goal:  DI5 students will create a month-long series of instructional resources and challenges for students in Grades 3-5 to improve search skills.

Pilot School and Beyond:  Due to location and instructional partnerships, we will pilot our process with a selected elementary school September 1-30. Throughout the process we will monitor and continually reflect making changes before having the DI5 team share the project and resources on October 28 with our District Tech Mentors (teachers) from every elementary school across Liberty Public Schools. 

Instructional Topics Include (but not limited to):Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 11.43.55 AM

  • Questioning
  • Keywords
  • Boolean Operators
  • Checking Your Answers

Creating a Challenge of the Day:

  • Search tips will be given at the start of the month with a gradual release for student independence
  • Challenges will increase in complexity
  • Elementary students will digitally record their answer to the challenge, reporting: their answer, search strategies used, and a link for proof of correct answer
  • DI5 will respond to students – offering feedback and support along the way

How will we know if we are successful? We are going to use a pre-test on the first day to help us better understand what students already know about the search process and then at the end of the month we will offer a post-test to assess growth on both the elementary student learning as well as to reflect on how well the topics were developed by DI5.

At my core, I believe in meaningful partnerships that are mutually beneficial. We are going to use the collective educational experience of the DI5 students to share the importance of learning good search strategies. The elementary students will build connections with older students, learn and engage in meaningful discussions, have a series of easy to use references at their fingertips created BY students FOR students, and engage in daily challenges to practice their search skills. 

The DI5 students will be creating materials for an authentic audience that has a larger reach than any of their previous projects. These students are creating a website (coming soon) to house this information so that their curation of already existing resources as well as creation of new materials will be available long after they leave Liberty High School.

Through a series of blog posts we will take you through our learning process and share the successes and challenges we will face. Today the DI5 students are meeting to determine the ‘catchy title’ and begin creating entrance videos to get students excited about the “search” topic.

I can’t wait to see what this incredible group of students creates and the impact that is felt across Liberty Public Schools! My hope is that teachers will also share what they learn from the DI5 students. This is a really neat opportunity to be a community of learners where we all benefit!

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