This is a tale of two classrooms. Both are second grade classes, both use itslearning, and both discovered creative ways to allow students to express themselves while exploring the different regions of Georgia. Each classroom utilized the four C's as well; creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
Misti Burtz's Class: Student-created pages in itslearning
My class used itslearning to enhance our Georgia regions unit. The students did research on each region of Georgia and were asked to use itslearning to “show what they know” about the Georgia regions. The students created bulletins, quizzes, polls, blogs, and uploaded images, developing their own “webpage of learning." They were encouraged to incorporate peer review, whereby anyone could interact with their page either through a blog, poll, or quiz. This allowed their pages to be interactive.
It was a much more effective method of learning, creating, and showing off what they know rather than completing a worksheet or drawing on a poster. The students felt that they owned their “webpage” and were excited to share with their peers, parents, and the participants at the GaETC conference held in November. It helped with their writing skills because it was authentic writing, using a tool that was fun, easy, and exciting. Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication were seen throughout this project using itslearning and it was recognized by their peers, parents, and educators.
Tip: You can create a folder and give permissions to add content to the folder. That way, each child can make his/her own page in itslearning.
Rachael Dooley's Class: Video development and discussion boards
My second grade students were researching and presenting on the regions of Georgia as well. Each student selected a region to research. Students used sites linked on itslearning, and other resources, to conduct their research. When the students completed their research they worked together to create a script for an informational video about their region. They filmed these videos on our green screen equipment and videos were shown at our class “museum” and on the morning news. Students then watched the videos and posted comments using the itslearning discussion board.
Using this method of instruction really provided my students with choice, creativity, and critical thinking. The students were highly engaged. Everyone was on-task and actively involved in all aspects of the project. Knowing that they were going to have an authentic audience really encouraged the students to “give it their best effort.” I saw an increase in the quality and quantity of writing. They were so proud of the final products.
When we first began commenting using the itslearning discussion board I didn’t give a lot of direction. After I began reading the first few posts I realized I needed to conduct a min-lesson on how to provide thoughtful feedback. We discussed that posting responses like, “cool video” didn’t really benefit the learner. The students then began writing feedback that included authentic feedback. Students couldn’t wait to log in and see if they had any new responses.
Parents were thrilled with the learning that occurred during this project. At our museum,several parents said that their students were discussing these lessons at home. The students were logging into itslearning when they returned home from school to watch the videos and read responses. What a great extension of the learning day!
My advice to other teachers that are considering using this platform for learning is to jump right in. Even if you don’t feel 100% comfortable using the technology, the kids will figure it out. They are rock stars. My students taught me so much about itslearning. They are not afraid to click on things and try it out.