EPiC 3rd grade students are continuously raising the bar on what it means to increase learner agency. I always enjoy visiting classrooms and asking students about their learning and on this day, I used tweets to capture the essence of what I was seeing. As I sit here reflecting on the day, I want to expand on this story.
It started with teachers Kellie Konrad and Dawn Bennett who designed a Breakout Challenge (idea adapted from Breakout EDU) where students would learn about Ecosystems as they unlocked clues about their upcoming field trip. Students engaged in an experiment to kick off the topic and then paired into teams of two to complete the challenges.
First challenge …
Blogging for learning is a great way to help students gather and organize their thoughts. No longer do students have to take notes in isolation, but instead can curate content to create meaning through sharing their ideas outside of their school. Imagine opening your classroom to the world and starting a conversation. EPiC 3rd graders are doing just that by becoming connected learners.
One of the reasons EPiC 3rd Graders are successful bloggers is that there are structures put into place to help them make sense of their research. Incorporating storyboarding allows teams to collaborate and outline the most important information and then blog reflections about what they learned. Storyboarding provides an organizational component that makes it easier for students to take what is in their head and publish to the world.
It is a joy to walk into a digital classroom that understands the power of learning is often selecting the right tool for the job. Simply put: sometimes it is technology, sometimes it is not. If we can build students (and teachers) who are tool fluent, we start to build platforms that allow for student ownership in the learning process who are able to transfer their knowledge in meaningful ways.
Nothing makes my heart sing like a small discussion group with the teachers. Imagine a classroom where the face-to-face time is for high level thinking and discussion? That is when you can really test and build your knowledge in new and unpredictable ways!
We need students who understand the research process isn’t a one-day fix but that it is cyclical and requires you to continually analyze and determine when you need to go back and research more. Building critical thinking skills in students is important for developing learner agency. Once students become more independent in the acquisition of knowledge it is possible to build on these structures to provide more personalization in learning.
Using Breakouts are such a motivating way for students to enhance critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork to complete challenges and unlock more learning opportunities. Dawn and Kellie are amazing teachers always looking for ways to motivate students to own their learning.
Please add to this post with your ideas expanding on the following question:
In what ways do your students own their learning?