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Getting my sixth graders online

Written by Bart Miller
September 13, 2013

Over the summer, I determined two things for certain that would be different about this school year:

1 My class would have more independence and autonomy

 2 My class would be more online

 The first goal depends primarily on my attitude toward learning. If I trust that students will pursue the learning that interests them and that they need to accomplish their goals, passions, and dreams, I don’t need to ‘plan’ their learning. The focus of my summer professional development was design, as blogged in the post Summer PD Reflection – DES!GN, so what I’ve been trying to do is provide environments and opportunities rather than plan assignments. Teaching in an inquiry-based school, this has been a natural evolution for me.

 The second goal has been exciting and unnerving. Last year, I did blog with my students and learned a lot in the process. This year, I wanted to turn our blog into a learning hub. It should be a place where I provide tasks AND where they express themselves and connect freely with each other and outside of our classroom. However, I’m not satisfied with the blog platform by itself, so I also set up a wiki.

 The wiki is turning out to be like our homebase. Thus far, we have a few pages going, the most notable being our first unit page, Rights & Responsibilities. It contains critical information about the outline for our unit of inquiry. As we complete tasks, the students add to the page. For example, I assigned homework to find the names of Human Rights Leaders. They added names that they found to our page and some included hyperlinks to corresponding wiki articles.

 Google forms are one of my favorite tools, and embedding them directly into the wiki is very engaging for the students. Please visit the Independent Inquiry page for an example and feel free to reflect on your independent inquiry activities there.

 I still haven’t explored ‘projects’ on the wiki, but I did create one for our Exhibition which will take place in late April. I’m really looking forward to exploring further.

 Our blog: kidblog.org/jiesgrade6

 Our wiki: jiesgrade6.wikispaces.com

 I’d love feedback and suggestions, so if you have a moment, please visit our sites and share your thoughts!

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