Alan November’s article Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm has inspired me in my professional life beyond words and guided many of my research and actions in the classroom and professional development since then.
We have come full circle as globalization quickly becomes the norm, and it may now be essential for our students to compete with peers from around the world. Today, we can restore the dignity and integrity of the child as a contributor. Across the country, pioneering teachers are providing students with new roles that have students making contributions to their learning communities. We have powerful, easy-to-use tools such as screencasting and podcasting that give students opportunities to contribute content to the class. At the same time we can also provide them with rigorous and more motivating assignments and better prepare them to become more productive in our new global economy.
You can read the following posts on this blog where I shared thoughts and examples of students as contributors:
I wanted to share yet another example of The Digital Learning Farm in action with you.
Fourth graders had a blast with a “Mystery Skype”. Two classes connected without knowing WHERE each one was geographically located. The idea was, by asking targeted questions, to find out the city we each lived in.
This mystery-type-call was a lot of fun and reinforced critical thinking skills as well as collaboration, communication and geography skills!
We stated the rules at the beginning of the call:
- One class starts asking a question to determine the geographic location of the other class.
- Questions can only be answered with “Yes” or “No”.
- If the class who asked receives a “Yes” answer, they continue to ask another question until they receive a “No”. It will be the other class’s turn then to ask a question.
On our end, we gave students different jobs to help figure the location out.
Questions & Answers
- Q & A: students were in the “hot seat” asking and answering questions in front of the webcam
- Scribe: Student who wrote the clues we received on the board to keep track of positive and negative responses
- Researchers: Students were ready and waiting with Google Maps open on their computer or with an atlas to take the clues received and narrow the search down and to feed information to the Q&A speakers.
We had a blast trying to figure each other’s location out and learned that we need to learn to ask good questions that will narrow possible answers down. We also learned that we all need to work together (Q&A, researchers and scribe) and communicate in order to solve the mystery of our Skype connection’s location. Here are some of the clues we figured out: Our skype mystery connection lives:
- in the USA
- where it is cold right now
- in the North of the USA
- does not live in North Dakota
- in Michigan
- about an hour from Detroit
- close to a lake
- in a small town
We needed some help to continue finding their exact location: We received the following clues:
- they are close to the border with Ohio
- the first part of their city’s name is a “baby sheep”
Our mystery class was from Lambertville, Michigan!