“Listen to the learners”

Once again Twitter has introduced me to a wonderful experience. I was made aware of the short video Stephen Heppell’s Empowering Young Learners by a tweet from @flourishingkids (Joan Young)
It was an interesting 20 minutes where the camera followed Stephen through London whilst he mused about educational issues. Stephen has big picture ideas about education and how it should change to reflect the 21st century learner. Unfortunately, we cannot all effect the big picture in major ways so we need to make our own little actions.

Empowering Young Learners from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

“ Listen to the learner” was the quote I wrote down and I have decided to plan my next terms unit with a group of 8 – 10 year olds on this premise. I have the pleasure of spending an hour a fortnight with 2 groups of Year 3/4 children and their teachers.    I usually introduce them to sites, software or tools that will be useful within their current unit of study – Inquiry learning, maths or literacy.

In this capacity, they have already seen (amongst others)

  • Wordle & Tagxedo
  • Wallwisher
  • Glogster
  • Moviemaker & more recently iMovie
  • GarageBand for Podcasting
  • Pivot (Stick Figure animator)
  • ToonDoo (Comic Strip Creator)
  • Inspiration

This term, I am going to ‘Listen to the learners’ and let them decide the subject matter and method for their activity. I will open it up to them.
I will use a Blog as a communication tool – we have set up Student Blogs with KidBlog and the children will reflect on their process on their blogs. In many cases, they will also publish their results on the blog. I am thinking that this will be useful as I don’t physically see the children often throughout the week and I can regularly check up on their progress between lessons.
I am aware this is not a novel concept, Passion projects have existed for some time, but I am curious to see how the presentation and creative tools alter the results.