Reading on in Curriculum21 I'm now at the chapter written by Tim Tyson about making learning irresistible. He documents the changes that took place in his middle school, as students were expected to produce work that would be completely public. He explained that as students took more ownership of their learning, their interest in learning created the desire to learn more.
One of the discussions we had last week was about parents being able to access the work of all students and whether or not this would lead to comparisons between the students. Another concern was that if some classes in a grade were blogging and others weren't, would this lead to pressure on the teachers from the parents of students in the classes that did not publish work on a class blog. The teachers were also concerned about the amount of extra work that would be involved in blogging.
I had a class webpage in 1995-6 and I can certainly empathise with some of these concerns. Yes, it was hard work (though I feel that blogging today is easier - in those days we had to write the HTML code ourselves!) and yes there were comparisons between my class and those of the other Grade 5 teachers. However I never had a problems with parents comparing their children with other students. When I asked a mother about this, she said that she did look at other students' work, but that was to help her have a more meaningful dialogue with her own son about the quality of work he was producing and to celebrate the achievements he was making. It helped her to put his work into perspective and at times helped her to know if her expectations were too high or too low. The students universally loved our class site - they were proud of their work and wanted to share it with their families around the world - and because they knew that this work was public it also lead to a greater excitement about their work and more effort into making it good quality.
Tim Tyson writes about how going public with students' work improves literacy. He asks:
Our society appears to be moving away from passive consumption, away from models in which the few broadcast to the many. People want a greater sense of participation and involvement, of community, of network. People innately want to interact. How are schools supporting this desire to contribute, to create and share?Photo Credit: Hand in Hand by Brandon Doran