Another Kind of Share

We’ve been researching in Keith Bollman’s 5th grade class. Because Keith and I have been working together for years, I know he will let me play a little in writing workshop. I can try out new ideas. I can test my theories. Often he gives a little laugh and then says, “Sure, go ahead and try it, Ruth.” This happens because we trust one another as a teacher and a coach. Keith trusts me to try things that may be a little out of his comfort zone. I trust that he isn’t going to judge me if things go awry.

So Keith and I are talking about his research unit and he’s sharing ways kids are going to collect their research. “What about using the Internet?” I ask.

“There’s not enough computers, so I was thinking about printing information for them.”

I wrinkled my nose. “That’s a lot of work on your end,” I said.

Keith wanted his students to know they can gather valuable research from the web, but he was stuck as to how to go about the logistics. Our computer labs are in use with end of the year testing and he only has 3 student computers in his room.

“What about the tablets?” I asked.

{Insert Keith’s laugh here.} “I don’t know, Ruth. I’ve not used them.”

“Let’s try it,” I said.

{Another laugh.} “Sure why not?”

The tablets were signed out until the end of the year. So I went door-to-door and begged for time. I got them for two days. I observed other classrooms work with the tablets. I talked to teachers.

I mentioned to Keith the first day students might not get a lot of “meaty” research complete, but we were just going to let them explore.

He agreed.

On Monday we put the tablets in their hands. I talked with them about patience and working through problems. They logged in. They found the Internet. They began researching.

Keith and I were impressed by the high level of engagement. They kept notes of their learning. They helped one another. They asked questions and found answers. They were patient and at the same time they were on fire with learning. It gave me goosebumps to watch the remarkable work unfold simply because we trusted students and didn’t let the unknown hinder us.

Here’s a little peek into workshop with the tablets. I love the way there are pockets of kids working together and then in other spaces there are kids secluded, sitting alone and working. I like the noise. The buzz of learning.

At the end of workshop, I stumbled onto a new kind of share. I asked students to share some thoughts about their work and the things they were learning as researchers. This isn’t a new way to share, however the twist was I video taped them as they spoke. It’s a kind of share I will repeat. I’m coming to believe video-ing students is powerful. It helps them with speaking and listening. It builds fluency and confidence. It makes their learning permanent. It documents the unseen work.

I love that there are less than 10 days left in the school year and I’m still learning and growing as I work in classrooms. This is a very good thing.

And a little internal dialogue…

Oh no! You know what I don’t love though? And what isn’t a very good thing? I just plugged in my video camera to share some of the students I video recorded and — I don’t believe this — I didn’t record them. The footage is of my feet, between student shares. Did I really stop recording when I thought I started and started recording when I thought I stopped? {Shaking my head in disbelief.} It’s times like these that I really wonder if I am, in fact, a grown up. So I guess I’ll just have to do this again. That’s okay…I was planning on it anyway!

What about you? Will you give this kind of share a try?