As I write this I am surrounded by Year 6 students. The doors of our two classrooms are open and our students are busy working, engaged in their learning. I am sitting next to two students who need more support than some but as I am working too, we are in a win win situation, as I can offer quiet support while sitting amongst them. I do have to admit though that even to write this first paragraph has taken most of the morning, as quite rightly, I am constantly interrupted.
My students are coming to the end of our government inquiry unit and they are completing part of their assessment task. An assessment task they (with guidance) designed. Collaboratively they decided to individually research a political ‘hot topic’ taking hand written bullet point notes on the different points of view. Now they are turning that research into scripted conversations, a written argument. They also collaborated on preparing their student success criteria and marking rubric, working together to jointly deciding its terms. As they write they are encouraged to constantly refer back to the rubric, so as to ensure they complete their personal best. This task fits perfectly with the discussion writing we are also completing. I feel confident that these tasks are authentic, purposeful and real.
As I glance around the room I can see, students typing either at their desks or on the floor. A few sit on the bean bags. Others have taken themselves off to find a quiet spot in the locker room.
Not everyone is working silently though and on occasions a gentle reminder needs to be given about the time frame we have for this written task. Having finished they are encouraged to share their work with a peer, to self and peer edit and to check it against their rubric. They are then allowed to print both the rubric and the conversation ready for marking.
Now the fun will begin. How to present this ‘hot topic’ conversation in another way? Yet again our students have made the final presentation decisions. They agreed that when sharing and reflecting on this task it would be so much more interesting to view something, than for them to have to read all of each other scripts. So we will have cartoons, movies, comics and more. Students will be using Picton, Bitstrips, toondoo or IMovie, Adobe Premeire Elements and more. The choices are enormous. The results will be amazing.
We are blessed indeed to live in these times, to have these presentation choices. Would this lesson have looked the same a few years ago? No way.
Update: I did indeed start this post at a student desk, to finish it though, has been another matter!