Recently I was wondering how many times teachers have made photocopies of a certain task or written the same notes on the board. I was trying to figure out what teachers do with all those great ideas for which they praise their students, and I if they knew whether these ideas could have an impact on different individuals. Such thoughts I was entertaining because I have been getting my students to contribute with their opinions, and to collaborate through a series of discussion topics in our interactive learning platform: E-Colelingvo. Most interestingly, I have used their productions as teaching resources and idea-activators for other classes. In other words, this practice has helped me trace the history of my classes, and has also helped my students become aware of how their linguistic competencies are evolving.
This practice has allowed me to observe how students are operating in the Language Acquisition curriculum that has been planned for them, to observe their progress (for their work in all tasks is saved from the day ); and the whole experience is clear evidence of how the curriculum is being designed, delivered, aligned, reutilized and purposefully documented.
Below is an example of a discussion forum that I started with my grade 10 students in August 2013, and that I later used with my Grade 12 students to start a debate in which Grade 10 students had to retaliate. And the best part of this experience is that this year I will be using it again with my new Grades 10 & 12, who will be confronting the ideas that they inherited form the two previous groups.
One of the aspects that is seldom talked about as a benefit of having a good Language Acquisition vertical curriculum alignment across the MYP and DP is the opportunities that are generated to have MYP and DP students collaborate, and share and enrich their perspectives. Since the IB Language Acquisition curriculum is structured following a phase-based sequence, it is important (if students manage to arrive at phases 3 or higher) to create opportunities in the curriculum for them to interact and learn along with students who possess the same or a higher language level.
Thus, in order to make such collaboration happen, students’ historical language inputs need to be recorded in a way that can be revisited. Clearly, this has a direct impact on the way curriculum is aligned, developed and utilized. I am aware of the effective ways in which networks have been used to add nuances to the learning process, but I wonder to what extent administrator are considering them as spaces where the written and taught curricula can ‘interact’ in a way that records of the planning and strategies execution are recorded across levels; while documenting the evolution of a group’s learning process.
A concrete example of the way this meticulously documented delivery of the curriculum has created opportunities for developing new understandings and integrating different levels of collaboration can be observed in this task, which commenced in 2012, and whose content has been referred to by students since.
The experiences that I described in this entry clearly demonstrate how the views that students generate can be used to generate a forum for discussion and co-construction new ideas. Moreover, they are wonderful archives of information and knowledge that future students will be able to read and consider when trying to formulate their ideas on the same topic.
No effort must be wasted when asking students to state their points of view. And most importantly, students’ contributions should be allowed to live as long as the theme can be discussed, for this is the best way to archive knowledge, to accumulate ideas and to witness how new the diversity in our points of view takes us to different levels of comprehension and appreciation of a given concept.
I feel like I am a knowledge thief, but I am happy I am finding authentic and meaningful use for this accumulation of knowledge.