Muddling through the blogosphere

Live from NECC – Alan November on “The Student as a Contributor”


It’s pretty much a no-brainer that students, not their teachers, should own the learning that’s happening in classrooms. But how do we make that shift? Alan November has a list of “jobs” that will help transfer contol to the learners:

  1. Screencasting – Put students in charge of producing tutorials for other children. With the research to show that a different voice explaining a concept can have an impact, why not ask our students to produce tutorials across the curriculum. Free screencasting tools such as Jing make this job very accessible to students. Example: Eric Marcos’ 6th graders’ math tutorials.
  2. Podcasting– Don’t underestimate what younger students can learn by telling sotires about what was taught/learned in class last week! Example: Bob Sprankle’s classroom.
  3. Google Custom Search Engine – I’ve been meaning to explore this tool, so I just started a custom search for the Change Writers’ project, an on-going collaborative community of 4th grade readers and writers. I loved Alan’s suggestion that teachers organize a “search engine design team.” My only concern in enlisting students to contribute is Googles’ 18 years or older requirement for using their tools. But what kid wouldn’t love sharing the rotating task of “question answerer”?!
  4. Goggle Docs Class Scribes- Research show that kids who take notes “live” do better than kids who take notes “written.”  Assign  three class scribes per week, who are in charge of producting “perfect notes.” Teacher structures by creating the headings and then assigning students to specific headings. Example: Daren Kurapatwa’s Pre-Cal 405– features a daily scribe to share learning journey into pre calculus.
  5. Ultimate Job = Contributing to the world – We need to teach kids there’s a larger world!

    1. – “Loans that Change Lives” – Based on the concept of micro-lending, shows entrepreneurship around the world. Teacher contributes a one-time, recyclable $25. Students then research and decide which village to fund.  Teaches kids to actually invest in, for instance, the rain forest. Tons of content and topics for students interested in making a difference.  Check out the wiki –
    2. Pitol House, New Orleans – This project, created by 3rd grade teacher Natalie Watts and her students, is an example of students creating a legacy.
  6. Teach children to find work of other children – Challenge your students to be curriculum researchers, which will ultimately leade to their owning whatever the assingment is. Thomas Friedman has a recent piece about American kids being at a deficit because they can’t see work other children around the world are doing.Fifth graders, for instance, reading Number the Stars, if allowed to search YouTube, would find projects such as

An essential piece in shifting to student ownership is promoting the life-long learning piece…

What a great final session to NECC 2009! Time to head to the airport.


  1. Gail, I am going to try to get my kids involved in microfinance this year, perhaps through Kiva. Having attended the microfinance conference in May at Stanford, I came away with a better sense of how the process works and what I can do. Now, I just need to give it a try.

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