A few weeks ago, each of my IB Diploma students (grades 11-12) received their own MacBook Air laptop and started bringing it to class. I'll admit that I hadn't really thought out how this would change my classes as well as I should have. I knew I wanted students to be creators, not just receivers, I knew I wanted them to share and collaborate, but I hadn't thought out what it would look like on a practical level. I've been experimenting, so I want to blog about what I've done and how it's gone.
My grade 12 IB Diploma Language and Literature class are doing a unit on bias and journalism. (For #langNlit peeps, I'm doing HL part 1 and part 2 topics setting up for written task 2s.) Last year, we went through some readings and examples of journalism displaying both ideological and structural bias, and more significantly efforts to avoid bias and evaluating how successful those were. I am really pushing the whole 'We Learn by Doing' mantra, so I gave them some readings and videos to look at one day, and then gave them an assignment that started fairly vague and got more specific as we worked on it.
And when I say we, I mean we. I had never given this assignment before, and I wanted to see what it was like to produce the thing I was asking for. So I made my own.
In class, they were working on theirs and I worked on mine, and we asked each other questions about the concepts and the process. As I faced challenges, I asked them if they had the same issues, and we talked through those.
For example, a significant addition to the assignment was suggested by a student. She said, as we all worked in class, that she found it difficult to talk about her news story without recognizing her own bias. Should that be included? It was a revelation, and once I was able to recognize my own bias, it made my assignment so much easier. So we added it to the assignment, and I think next year that will be an even larger part of the unit and the assessment.
For years, I have read about guiding students through a process by doing it myself. With the technology, as students work in class rather than at home, I have the time to do that work along side them, communicating as a fellow creator rather than just an assessor. I have no idea how the actual assignments will turn out -- I finished mine early with the hope that my example would spur them on to better things -- but regardless, it has been a good experience for me, creating a pattern a plan to follow more often.
I wonder, though, if I do a similar assignment next year, will I make another one? We'll see.