Changing the “Culture” of Learning

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Pam Sengos.

 

Personalizing Learning for All Students

As a technology coach in my district, I have the opportunity to work with many wonderful teachers and students. In the past few years, our district has researched and invested time in personalized learning for all students based on their own skills, interests, and learning paths.

With a team of third grade teachers, we began our work by redesigning our Culture Unit. Our mission was to give students more ownership over their learning by allowing more choice in how they learned and what they learned, customize a learning pathway which allowed students to take steps in achieving their goals and demonstrate mastery of content, and lastly give students an authentic audience in which they could share their learning and knowledge with others.

Using Voicethread to Connect with Our Community and Global Partners

To fully embrace and understand different cultures, we knew we needed to give students the opportunity to reach out globally. Through Harvard’s Out of Eden Learn platform, we connected with several different classrooms from around the world. Out of Eden Learn not only follows the expedition of journalist, Paul Salopek, as he walks seven years around the world, but also gives students a platform in which they can converse with others safely and specifically around activities called “Footsteps.” In Footstep #2, students were asked to draw a map that represented a local area or their own neighborhood.

We uploaded students’ beautifully designed maps and then asked them to share focal points of their neighborhood or special stories that happened within them. By using the drawing tool in Voicethread, it allowed students to help their global partners focus on the parts of their map in which they were talking about in their story. It really allowed their audience to have a deeper understanding of where we live and stories that connect us to our daily lives and communities. In addition, we allowed comments to be posted by others in our voicethread to give others the opportunity to ask questions or comment on our maps and stories.

Using Voicethread as a Reflection Tool

Voicethread has been a powerful tool that has allowed students to reflect on their learning experience. Reflection is important for all students as they look back at their learning and see ways they were successful and areas in which they want to improve on. It allowed teachers a way to assess how students felt about the process and how learning was made personal and meaningful to their students. Voicethread gave teachers a direction on how to move forward with personalizing other areas of their curriculum and classroom by listening to student feedback.


 

About the author:

Pam Sengos is an Information Technology Literacy Teacher for the Oregon School District in Wisconsin. She serves on the district’s technology and personalized learning committees. Pam collaborates with teachers and provides professional development as well as works with students to help make learning meaningful and engaging. Her twitter handle is @psengos Also, you can follow her on their District’s Technology Facebook page.

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