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Published
Jun 18 2010

Group Conversations Around Images, Documents, and Videos

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The inquiry process is at the heart of all the technology tools I use with
my students. . . . The first step is the play step. And I believe that play is an essential step for students learning new technologies. This step gives students free rein to explore the new tools without having "serious" work to accomplish. This stage allows for students' natural curiosity to take over and test the limits of the technology in a really low-risk setting. And I found out that when I skipped this step or moved through it too quickly, I noticed students will still want to play when I actually want them to do the serious work.

Denver Writing Project technology liaison Jason Shiroff employs an inquiry process with his fourth and fifth grade students as they learn to use a wiki to support their work. Shiroff presented the resources he developed as part of his classroom wiki work at the NWP Spring Meeting and Annual Meeting. The following VoiceThread piece is an online virtual version of that presentation.

Excerpted from Group Conversations Around Images, Documents, and Videos

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<p>Jason Shiroff's insight into the role of "play" as an essential step for students learning new technologies is mirrored by this thought provoking Ted Talk by<em> Sugata Mitra: Can kids teach themselves?</em> &nbsp;Both Jason and Sugata explore the "natural curosity of children to take over and test the limits of technology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRb7_ffl2D0</p>
<p>I DID A PAPER QUITE A WHILE AGO ON STUDENTS (FIRST GRADERS) COMMENTING ON TEACHING THEMSELVES. Of course. </p> <p>Christine Aikens Wolfe, Pgh PA</p>
<p>Christina is your paper available for publication. &nbsp;I would enjoy hearing your story.</p>
<p>Hi Christine,</p> <p>I'm with Peggy -- I'd enjoy reading your paper, or a synopsis of it. &nbsp;If it is not published, you could make a resource out of it or even upload it as an attachment in a discussion comment.</p>
<p>Honestly, this is how <em>I </em>learn new technologies. Sure, I look at the technical directions, but after about five minutes of trudging through the unfamiliar terminology, I often glean the basics, then go exploring. And that's when I learn... when I learn the HOW and the WHAT. The <em>how</em> comes with me clicking on buttons to see what they do - call me fearless. And the <em>what </em>can only be gathered after I have started to create whatever it is I am developing. After all, how can I know what I need to do until I know I need to do it? So wouldn't the same concept apply to our students?</p> <p>Just this morning in a whole-school meeting, our Assistant Principal reminded us that it's okay if we as teachers don't know everything in regards to technology&nbsp;- that we can learn along with the kids... which reaffirmed the stance I took this week when introducing a new project to my own students. You see, I think I've finally reached a place in my own comfort&nbsp;with technology that I am ready to branch out into new literacies I hadn't previously considered. My first stop: video editing. Even though I've attended three conferences and a similar number of webinars, I'm still not <em>completely at ease </em>with the concept (thank God for the simplicity of the Flip Video)... but you know what - that hasn't stopped me! Each class period I prefaced my spiel with, "Now remember, I've never actually done this before, so if you learn something cool, let me know about it!"</p> <p>That's what real learning is, isn't it? Exploring, hypothesizing, experimenting. Gotta love technology's ability to drop us right down into the midst of it. :)</p>