An open invitation for students to learn.

(Hear author read this post)

Below is the blog post I wrote for my students on our class ning.  This project will be worked on throughout the rest of the school year.  While this will not be the only thing we do in class, the project will take up a large portion of time.  I am very excited to see how my students react and where they take the project.  Comments & suggestions are appreciated.  As you can tell, the project (which starts today!) is fluid.  I’ll let you know how the 8th graders handle it.  Here is the post they will receive:

Very rarely do you get the opportunity to decide what you are going to learn about in school. Even more rarely do you get to decide how you will learn about a topic or how you will demonstrate what you have learned. Usually, students listen to teachers talk about a topic, do some homework about a topic, then take a test on the same topic or sometimes complete a project based on a topic. Most always these activities are done under very specific guidelines set by the teacher. Teachers set these specific guidelines to help you understand their expectations and help you meet certain goals. Yet, once you leave school, you are responsible for making these guidelines on your own.

Instead of giving you a set goal or specific guidelines for this next project, I would like to simply encourage you to learn about something that interests you. How you learn about this topic will be up to you. How you demonstrate your learning will be up to you. I am trying to put this project in your control as much as possible. My suggestion is to identify a topic that you find very interesting or a topic that you think will be useful to you in your future plans. Some of you will struggle with what to do in this project since I am not giving you exact expectations. Let me give you some general guidelines and suggestions:
Your Job
  • Identify a topic or group of topics to learn about.
  • Learn about the topic.
  • Connect your topic with each of the “traditional” school subjects (Math, Science, Language, Reading, History)
    • How is each subject related to your topic?
    • How will each subject help you achieve your goals related to the topic?
  • Demonstrate your learning about the topic.
  • Share your learning with the world.
My Job
  • Resource for information, questions, and ideas.
  • Technology help.
  • Help you stay focused.
  • Help you improve your finished product.
Possible Learning Tools
  • Library (books, magazines, etc).
  • Twitter – follow people who are experts or interested in your topic.
  • Google Reader – Subscribe to blogs of experts in the field.
  • Podcasts – Audio recordings available online (try itunes if you have it at home)
  • Google Search
  • diigo – online bookmarks
  • Lazyfeed – searches for a topic and delivers related articles to you in real time.
  • ???????
Possible Ways to Demonstrate/Share Learning
  • Youtube – create & upload your own video
  • Blog – create a series of blog posts
  • Google Doc
  • Google PowerPoint
  • Create a Facebook page (not an account, a page)
  • Concept map – Bubbl.us
  • Prezi
  • Create your own Podcast
  • Creat your own Website
  • Posterous – cross between blog, twitter, and diigo
  • Make a book – Bookemon.com
  • Etherpad.com
  • drop.io
  • Any combination of the above
  • ??????
This project will be a learning experience for all of us. This project will likely be difficult for me as each of you will be learning about different topics and some of these topics will be things I do not know very much about. Even though the project will be difficult for both you and me, I believe the project will better prepare you for the future. You will be learning how to access and organize information, learning more about an area that interests you, making connections with people beyond this school, and sharing your learning with others. While I think you will enjoy this project, do not assume the project will be easy or always fun. Learning is difficult. Oftentimes the most important learning is the most difficult.
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6 Responses to An open invitation for students to learn.

  1. John Sowash says:

    Great idea and great outline. I have been wanting to try something similar to this. I posted about it on my blog a while back but haven’t had time to try it out. Maybe at the end of the year! I’ll be looking for a reflection post on the end result!

    • jerridkruse says:

      thanks John. I am planning to post some updates on problems & successes. I’ll also post some links to students’ work in progress as well as some student interviews on their views of the project.

  2. Paul Bogush says:

    I do this at the end of almost each year. I love it! There is always a research paper attached and the writing they produce is always their best. Because I teach social studies I tell them as long as you can connect you topic to anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, or sociology it’s good to do.

    Some great memorable research has been done by the kids. I remember the unique research that was done about the effect of anti-bullying programs in schools, the impact of the media on what we perceive as danger, and what will remain our most epic social studies presentation of all time–a 45 min preso on how barbed wired tamed the west.

    Once you do this, you will find that elements of this project will find it’s way into many other units as you plan next year.

  3. [...] from within. I would like to do a similar thing to what Jerrid Kruse has been doing with his class http://educatech.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/an-open-invitation-for-students-to-learn/ – unfortunately this may have to wait till next year if I am still teaching the same [...]

  4. My website says:

    My website…

    [...]An open invitation for students to learn. « Teaching as a dynamic activity[...]…

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