Final Project Consideration: Handing Over Control

Project Progress Report

A few weeks ago, I completed a written plan for my final project based on the Understanding By Design (UbD) template. Please feel free to take a look at it here…

I have so far covered up to session three on this plan. I would like to use this blog post to reflect on how I think the lessons have gone so far, and how I see the project progressing through to the final session.

Successes

After discussion offline, one of my students wrote what she would say to someone who had had a bad day. She decided to differentiate between empathy and sympathy.

During the first session, we had some valuable conversations offline about exactly what empathy is. These discussions were enhanced by the use of video, of which I have previously shared via blog posts, and led us to develop a shared vocabulary about how we can be kind, compassionate and empathetic. Some of the most telling conversations were around the differences between sympathy and empathy, and we even went as far as completing a Shades of Meaning activity based on which is the most caring or kind towards a fellow person.

Socrative proved to be a really effective tool in gathering the children’s opinions and in understanding their current knowledge base, both before and after the session. This is certainly something which I will use again.

I am still wondering whether this session could be taken to the next level through the use of technology, but I am also aware that establishing ground rules or a basic understanding before embarking on activities such as blogging or online interaction is an imperative move. I will continue to muse on this aspect of the project and look to improve this session further.

Rich discussion continued in Session Two, where we worked as a class to establish our ground rules for staying safe online. Again we used video as part of this process, and we then collaborated by using Padlet to not only share opinion on how to stay safe online, but also how and why people might blog. I felt that we came to a shared standpoint/philosophy on both topics and established a really strong culture within the class. See below for some Padlet based reflection and our shared rules (on the brand new SeeSaw class account).

Made with Padlet

Made with Padlet
Our class rules for staying safe online.

Finally, we gained a deep understanding of how and why we might comment on the posts of others. This led to a wonderful display as the children added their views of what they think empathy is and added comments to both encourage and improve the work from their friends. The level of engagement in the class was really high and the children showed a depth of collaboration which was a joy to see in their first foray in the world of blogging.

Overall, I think that the children have begun to establish a blogging culture with their peers which is based on a caring and considerate attitude, with a sense of empathy for others. I feel that they are not only learning about this important topic but also practicing it with a direct link to technology. Here are some of the interactions so far…

Here are comments on a different post:

Again, comments rained in, this one for an alternate post on the wall:

Moving Forward

I think that my pupils have a really strong grounding in the basics for this project now. As you can tell from the title of this blog post, my concern is now to hand over control to the children themselves. An approach whereby the students control their interactions and their activity online should result in a depth of experience and understanding far greater than if the tasks are dictated to them. With this in mind, I have already altered the later lessons in the plan so that the children can choose the medium with which they create their posts (I see myself as coaching them with their app smashing – I’m thinking another app combined with SeeSaw as a starter). The children will also mediate and control their discussion topics when on their class blog.

I am really excited to see how this all goes and can’t wait to share the results with you all. Connections are also made behind the scenes for some global connections at the culmination of the project. Watch this space!

The essence of inquiry learning isn’t simply about answering questions, it’s about asking questions and taking action – learningthroughinquiryblog.