September 23, 2010

The Learning (B)log: Darren Kuropatwa's class scribes

Darren Kuropatwa Students who explicitly write down what they think they've learnt, what they didn't understand and what they think they need to know next time tend to perform better as a result. It makes concrete the self-assessment and peer-assessment we know help them perform better over time (cf Inside The Black Box (pdf) for details).

Learning logs were a core part of my classroom practice, having seen the effects they have on improving student performance in the bilingual schools of New Brunswick in my first year of teaching. A student there would write down what they had learnt and what they felt they'd have to learn tomorrow in order to achieve the goals of the project they had set out on. In paper format they were quite tricky to manage, and as students peer-assessed there would be paper flying all over the place.

With the emergence of easier-to-use blogs around 2002/3 I started getting students to keep logs of their learning online, instead, initially using the extra time afforded by school trips, before getting more personal blogs set up to keep track of their learning.

At the same time, Darren Kuropatwa, a maths teacher on the other side of the Pond in Manitoba, Canada, had developed an even more manageable and, I think, even more empowering means of having students think about what they had learnt: the learning scribe.

In this podcast series from Alan November, Darren explains the genesis for setting these learning scribe posts up, where one student writes down (online) on behalf of the rest of the class what he or she thinks they all learnt, and what they think they've not understood.

If you've ever doubted how a piece of technology builds upon what we know is great teaching practice, this is it. Harnessing both the online nature of transparent reflection and the constraint of not having a laptop for every child, Darren was able to create a rich experience for every student.


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