Monday, 20 July 2015

MIT Update #5: Student Agency

This year we have continued our school-wide professional development journey focussing on Writing with Nadine Sorrensen from Team Solutions. The MIT group and myself spent a block with her asking questions and sharing our own learning journey. By using think-alouds and teacher modelling, Nadine and I were able to demonstrate in context that giving and receiving feedback was very much a two way street. Initially the students were very quiet but as they gained confidence they started asking her the types of questions those seeking feedback should ask. It frustrates me here that I didn't record the dialogue, however my excuse is that I too, was fully engrossed in the learning.

We shared our Writing rubric and explained the thinking behind why we had created it. Nadine asked questions of the content that required clarification. Noticing how these students were able to confidently respond showed me that they definitely owned the learning. What was also very evident was the high level of content knowledge that each of the students has developed this year. They have have achieved high levels of student  agency by developing a tool that they use in their own learning.

With the students working on the feedback they had been given I was able to have my own learning time with Nadine. She directed me toward another reading that supports my inquiry. Although not created to use in a digital medium, Jeff Anderson's 'Mechanically Inclined' explores the power of 'organic growing, changing charts that address the what the kids need to know to survive in their world of writing'. Anderson highlights how his student generated wall charts were 'referred to, pointed at, moved and looked at... and a living part of the class's making meaning journey.' This thinking resonated with me. My observations and years of chalkface experience have shown me that if something is generated by the students there is ownership, and with ownership comes the mindset to 'use', as the content knowledge that allows the information contained in these reference points is in place. The thinking behind our rubric was exactly this as we wanted something that our class had connections with and could make meaning from anywhere, anytime and at any pace.