One of the exciting benefits of the activity was that it placed students in position to get to know and begin to understand both their peers and their IU mentors (with whom they’d later be sharing their writing). Building a classroom community meant more than just expecting that all participants would work together productively in the groups within which they were placed; it meant encouraging everyone to understand each other’s backgrounds and trusting each other enough to share writing, ideas, and even mistakes. The activity allowed for the building of collaborative work and contributed to richer social and individual learning for all participants.
My students and their mentors in the “Literacy In Our Lives” activity shared who they were as readers and writers–inside and outside of school–and intimate details about themselves, including the ways they lived their lives and the ways they viewed knowledge. My students also reflected on their video production after they had completed it and discussed the process by which they had created their videos, the ways the project accomplished their goals, and the ways it fell short. The reflection further helped my students and their mentors begin to respect each other and fostered a trusting community from which we all benefited throughout our time together.