I have been teaching six wonderfully inquisitive and charming young people entirely paperless for the last 8 months. They’re Year 11 students who have had their DER lenovo netbooks since 2009 and it has been a breeze!
Interestingly, this successful paperless classroom has not translated to my larger classes – not even the students in Year 10 whose netbooks are one year younger. There are a whole host of reasons for this but I think the central reason has been my unconscious, silent refusal to use paper and the tacit consent of the six students to follow suit. To be honest I didn’t even realise I was teaching paperless until two nights ago when I was marking first drafts of my students’ webpages.
We meet as a class once a week for two hours. It is the only class they have that day. I let them charge their netbooks if necessary and I always let them run to the TSO to get a health check if the situation is grim. All work has been sent to edmodo the night before (or that morning depending on how rushed I am to plan my lessons) and all assessments are set and marked on edmodo. The only time paper has been a prerequisite was for a timed essay under examination conditions.
In class we sit at a board-room style configuration of tables – I am at the head facing them all and the six of them face one another. We have wonderfully rich discussions about the tasks at hand, share our ideas about the texts being studied, help each other find the right sites and tools to complete tasks. (We also have great chats about all sorts of other things too!)
The latest project I had my students complete is a real favourite of mine – a technology-amplified transformation of a task that I had created a couple of years ago. I am going to attach it below for you to look at, but I’ll also briefly outline how it’s been working. It’s also a means to prove to myself that PBL and senior school do mix.
Our Driving Question for this project is: IS LITERATURE (RE)SHAPED BY OR FOR THE WORLD?
Students were given a copy of the assessment notification below via an edmodo assignment. I then posted a timeline of tasks as a note on edmodo as well as posting each task as a separate assignment. Here is a link to the assignment outline, Part A investigation questions and marking criteria.
As you can see, a central component of the assessment is the creation of a website. In class students created individual weeblys to house and present their work. Yes Weebly is blocked at school. I get around this in class the only way I know how – and am happy I do. Filters are stupid. As soon as the students got in to weebly they wanted to beautify their sites by adding images. They all raced to google images. I raced as fast and got my ‘just in time teaching’ hat on. I spoke to them about copyright – they had no understanding of the different types of licences – and tweeted an ‘SOS’ to get tips on finding copyright free images. Thanks to my wonderful PLN I quickly had a series of links to post to the students via edmodo. The students spent about 10-15 minutes looking through the links, watching a video about Creative Commons licensing and then went off looking for images the could use legally. Here is my post with links about copyright.
Over the next week I watched the student’s websites bloom into wonderfully colourful pages. This project is awesome. The kids are loving it. The fact that the assessment is both formative and summative runs in line with my PBL vision for school. The final presentation (the tradiational ‘speaking’ task for this course) is the presentation of learning. Students present their websites, their research AND their product – an appropriation of their original text. I love that the students got to choose the form of their appropriation. They have 10 minutes to present, I gave them some ‘must cover’ elements but did not prescribe the order and style of the presentation. I’m working hard to get student voice into this course.
Students just submitted Part A of the task via edmodo. They sent me through the links to the appropriate webpages. I wanted to give feedback directly on to their website, so called on twitter again and was recommended a cool web tool Mark Up . This allowed me to add comments to the student’s page AND gives them a chance to respond using the annotation tool. Pretty neat. The students will be using this feedback to edit their work – just in time! Want to see what it looks like? Here are my comments for one student’s webpage: 10 Things I Hate about Shrew! When I completed the obligatory marking criteria and feedback sheet, I just highlighted the criteria level student’s achieved and typed my comment below. I then sent this to the students via the edmodo assignment with the link to the markup annotations on their webpage and their grade. No paper!!
Here are the links to my student’s webpages.