The power of reflective practice

This is a thread from a current 9th grade project that is drawing to a close. You’d think that as most kids have presented and handing in their project that activity in the Study Group would be slowing down. So I was suprised to see the sudden appearance of a forum topic :


What is even more powerful is that fact that it clocked up over 120 comments in a day or so. There are a percentage of students that really benefitted and understood the purpose of being in a reflective writing community, a number of others, saw it as work – lots of work. The reality is that it wasn’t ‘work’ as in a task.

I don’t encourage ‘marking’ blogs. I think that that approach gives the impression that being a reflective, individual learner is tied to a ‘task’ and then in turn a ‘judgment’.

Here’s an example of why:

1 more thing based to my perspective i also think that the blogs weren’t really necessary even though it helps the teachers to see what we are learning i just reckon the affect they have on our marks was just to much cause we had quite a percentage coming out of them so yea. BLOGS = NO GOOD.

They understand that blogging helps teachers to help them – but they don’t want this to be a measuring tool. When designing a project, this writing is put into the rubric as ‘participation and work effort’. This means that the student is left to judge how many posts, when to post and what to post. The biggest single motivator is peer pressure, explicit and implicit.

Designing a project, and then facilitating it collaboratively works better when it is large group. But that means you have to know how to do it, manage it and lead it – online. That isn’t something you are going to pick up unless it is extensively modeled and supported.

This seems a little odd in comparison to what Shirky talks about as the ‘tragedy of the commons’ – in which he argues that when more than 5 people come together, getting a concensus agreement is very difficult. As you add more people, it becomes even more complex.

By using a large group in an discource community it becomes easier. Students work in micro-groups, but when they are writing as individuals, they are drawing knowledge and motivation from the macro-group.

Tanuj you said “projects in PBL r never fun but its r imagination and creativity that make it fun……. ”

I have found some projects to be fun including the designing digital media (photoshop car) project, our current animation project, and even the images of Jesus project, mainly because of the photoshop aspect, and best of all SPJ!!, just to mention a few.

This student obviously enjoys learning ‘mastery skills’, but never the less does engage in the macro discourse.

Comment by Charbel Assaf 1 day ago Tanuj, what are you tallking about?
Anyway i have to agree with all of comments made. I think thay all made a valid point. But I do have to agree with Gabby. I commented Mr. Henry’s blog and told him the same thing. I think we should of used a better program. As in our need to know list stated, ‘Which It program should we use,’ I think we should of been given the chance to choose a program, not just be forced to use one of the teachers choice. Anyway its all good. But overall I sort of did enjoy the project, I have to say this project was better than previous projects.

This student is talking about how he feels empowered to give a teacher a comment about being able to select alternate technologies – as he’s identified, in agreement with others, that they he thinks he knows a better way and is able to justify reasons for that. As these students have been ‘pushed’ to write reflectively about their own learning, and draw on the macro learning – after only a few weeks, we are seeing them being critical of not just their own work, but how they learn.

That to me is evidence that EdTech can work for both students and teachers. To be able to design projects strategically to get these reactions is at least as important as meeting outcomes/standards – which is where they begin to talk about their past experiences.

Id love do secondlife and us it as a tool to help our knowledge of the new technology we have in this new aged world also it would be a good tool for , to be houst it was quit boring but secondlife would make it funner.

This is addressing that a presentation or product looks like.

Yes, i would agree with you Reece, i would of liked to use Second Life as a tool in order to succeed my project by getting a A or B. I think that this is a great idea Reece, it would of been alot better in my opinion, so i could show you fellow students what i think Westmead can look like instead of copy and pasting information and solar panels,water tank’s etc.

Here are two students discussing the benefit of the ‘tool’ (their language). They are comparing using Photoshop to doctor images in 2D with being able to create them in 3D. The see a value in it.

They also check what we are checking …

Mr Hays, if I was you, I would have checked that comment more thoroughly before submitting it when your talking about spelling errors because I know the first thing I did after reading it was to go over it and search for spelling errors, and I am sorry to say but I found two. (not to be a smart ass but I found it quite funny)

But even that is an opportunity for an English teacher to get involved and re-address the learning.

Well Reece you need to check YOUR spelling of YOUR.. it should be YOU’RE as you are saying when you’re talking about spelling..

The last two are probably one of the most important. In an online community, you have to relinquish power. You have to accept that there is an ebb and flow of communication, language and hierarchy that probably has never existed before – and that challenges teachers as it is a fundamental shift in pedagogy.

I think that is the same for this project for social studies. Previously, you would have been given a series of broadsheets discussing spatial inequality in some part of Australia that you have never heard of or ever been too. However, in this project you were able to apply your knowledge to something real that you see every day. We learn by doing!

This is talking about the cartesian learning verses collaborative learning in a discource community. But they also notice their perception of how engaged the teachers are with them – and they know what that engagement has a direct impact on their learning.

one thing I notice is that 9.3/9.4 teachers are not using ning as much as the others? could be the reason why the other classes are head of us? :s

9.3/9.4 teachers should be up equal with the other class teachers because 9.3/9.4 are so far behind… Its not fair on the students..

I was asked how we should deal with comments like the last two? – Should we close the thread? I argue not. I think that there is a right of reply offered, and that during the process, teachers had equal opportunity – at least in class. If a proportion of the learning is in Second Life – then go to Second Life, if another is in Ning, then work in Ning – it exposed the embedded notion that learning is linked to geographic proximity when it should be linked to a ‘zone of proximity learning’.

EdTech is about designing ‘projects’ that draw out learners in multiple ways – to make reflection authentic as well as making the project authentic. I am really over people talking about ‘tools’ and ‘possibilities’. I dont know what is not possible right now – so that’s what I want to learn from the inter-webs and other teachers – but I want to see it, be involved in it – not listen to camp fire tales.

This is what I am looking forward to in the Powerful Learning Project – the engagement. And what I want to see happen is that the frameworks created and lessons learned are not talked about later – but work shopped and unconferenced later – to me PLP’s value is to take it on the road in Australia and NZ. We really need it!

Final Word on this : Here’s a tip for ALL VENDORS – get people an/or kids in a room and let them work with the technology – Employ an EdTech to show you what your stuff can REALLY do – You’ll sell more stuff and create better teachers and learners – email me: I’ll show you how to end the digital winter and discussions around ‘what will it do in the classroom’. You’re missing the opportunity! (But I’ve been listening to Kid Rock all week, so yeah I’m cocky).


3 thoughts on “The power of reflective practice

  1. You’re right Dean when you say it has given the students the confidence to discuss their own learning and environment and put forward suggestions, alterations and opinions to the teacher; and it is welcome. I took one student aside recently and responded to an opinion he published on the ning site.

    I think he was taken aback by the fact that I truly appreciated his honesty. And the reason I appreciated his opinion? He was a boy who was forever in trouble, not doing work, being disruptive. As much as he did not like certain aspects of the project he understood the reasoning behind it, the value it did have and he ahd the honesty to say as much. He actually gave a toss!!!!! We had won!!!!! He was engaged!!!!!! I was over the moon. Small victories I know, however, when a student begins to care about his work, his marks, his learning, then it is awe inspiring.

  2. I enjoyed these examples of student discussion in a blogging community. It seems that the metacognitive piece might be the most valuable but just having the dialog – student-student and student-teacher is very important.

    Do you feel that blogging helps shy students to participate more?

  3. Pingback: Colloquies with Kathryn » Blogging Community?

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