Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November

Chapters 3 and 4

Here's some of my thinking about Chapters 3 and 4:
Chapter 3:  Student as Scribe
I'm a first grade teacher, so initially the idea of students as scribe seemed perhaps impractical, but thinking about it further I can imagine modifications that could be successful.  I think that with scaffolding and gradual release, I can see scribing working as part of an end of the day reflection, or morning meeting activity.  Perhaps recording a student generated question or comment about a learning goal during in the day, then reflection at the end of the day.  I've recently experimented with ShowMe and am excited to try it in the fall.
I'm a novice to blogging, and don't have access to much technology in the classroom:  one old desktop only!  Also my district is quite restrictive about internet access.  I have a first generation iPad that I'd love to use with students, but since it's my personal equipment, I (so far) can't get access to the wifi in school.  I hope to push that envelope a little for the fall.  Clearly, I have a lot to learn about and will need to take small steps.

Chapter 4: Student as Researcher
What I learned from this chapter is that there is a LOT that I don't know about accurate online searches!  Some of this isn't developmentally appropriate for first graders.  This comment from the text was perhaps obvious, but important, I think:  "you cannot assume that because your students seem comfortable around digital devices, they are knowledgeable about critical thinking."  Research provides opportunities to compare, contrast, and synthesize information to build critical thinking skills.  Every year, it's interesting to watch and support students' surprise when not all texts or sources offer the same "facts".  We typically work collaboratively on research in first grade, with some students ready to move to some independence. There are always many opportunities for accountable talk around what students are learning.  I will be thinking about ways to students might share or extend this beyond our classroom.

I can imagine the sense of power, ownership, responsibility that might be generated as young students use these some of these tools fluently and can envision increased parent engagement, as well.

Thanks to all organizers and contributors for pushing my thinking!


  1. Linda,

    I love the positive attitude that you are showing in the face of some challenges. I like that you are going to try to "push that envelope a little for fall". Even when you have access to devices and the internet, it still takes consistent small steps to get where you want to go. I hope things work out well for you as you begin. Thanks so much for joining the conversation.

  2. Chapter 4 was a real eye-opener for lots of us, wasn't it?!?!

  3. Yes, push the technology in your school. Bring in that personal ipad and start using it with your kids. Then show your principal what you’ve been doing. That’s what Katie Keier did (my writing partner on Catching Readers Before They Fall). She started using her own ipad with the kids and eventually her principal was able to get a few more for each kinder classroom.

  4. I'm with Pat... be sure to push the envelope (and the technology) in your school and classroom! Those small steps are so important in showing how powerful of a learning tool technology can be.

    As a former 1st grade teacher, I agree that some (many?) of the ideas in the book would need to be tweaked a bit to support the first grade learner. I love your idea of the gradual release of some of those responsibilities, as well as incorporating it into morning meetings.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you!

  5. Linda,

    I love this part of your post "Every year, it's interesting to watch and support students' surprise when not all texts or sources offer the same "facts". This is so true, not just in primary grades, but I've seen this in middle and high school too. We've got to help our students be critical readers and thinkers, not passive consumers of information. Thanks for your post!


  6. Linda,
    It is hard to keep running up against school constraints! I have also gained a lot by bringing in some of my own equipment and it has also helped others to get more access. Your ideas are great!

  7. Linda,

    I just posted some information on Laura's site about the value of teaching digital literacy and citizenship skills to even our youngest of learners. Common Sense Media has great lessons for K to 12; and this link is for K to 2:

    I think that the conversation about responsibility and ownership can start with our youngest learners, but I am not a primary practitioner. What do you think?


  8. Linda,
    Having such restricted access must make it challenging. We are lucky to have three desktops in our classroom and access to laptop carts (though scheduling is challenging). This year we will be adding two iPods and an iPad. I am hoping this will allow us to use Show Me, Explain Everything, Boca and other creation apps.

    Like you, I found I have a lot to learn about searching. That section was eye opening.

    I am so glad you have joined the conversation,