When discussing projects and how we must never underestimate the efforts we make while completing them, I always remember what my biology teacher told me in Middle School: a boat builder does not make a boat solely to drag it to the sea and figure out how well it floats; he builds it so that it takes him to different places. Ms. Laura Barrón claimed that students should regard projects as vessels that will transport them to different plateaus of learning, where new projects will be generated, and where they had the opportunities to marvel at the opportunities new knowledge and information allows them to have.
Not only has this mantra helped me embrace the challenges in every new project I participate in, but also has encouraged me to find ways to help students enjoy a meaningful process in the projects they are to fulfill. In an inquiry-based learning environment some of the most meaningful habits that need to be experienced are awareness of the skills we are employing while working; reflection on the strategies we employ and the results we obtain; and evaluation of the decisions we make when we devise instruments or processes for learning. For this reason, in order to help students realize the importance of turning their project into vessels of learning, I enjoy engaging in their wonderings and wanderings, for this also helps me get to know them better as well.
Incorporating ‘ATL’ as adjectives, nouns and verbs in the conversations I have with students has become a common element in our interactions. In previous posts I have already spoken the importance of helping students see that the ideas they share contribute to the co-construction of information (another brick on the bridge); I have shared my views on the importance of explicitly teaching essential skills in each of the projects we carry out in our subjects (Hands of the doer); I have reflected on the importance of observing and acknowledging how new learning transforms students and teachers alike (Cycles); and I have also inquired into the unit to measure the joy of learning. This time, as I revisit the interviews on ATL in the Personal project that I had during the Personal Project presentation, I have realized that students are able to identify those significant ATL skills that will help them achieve their goals, and to devise different ways of learning to make that happen. Nonetheless, what strikes me the most is the passion with which they claim ownership of their learning.
As I look back at the ATL in the Personal Project that we underwent at EMWS this year, I can’t help but wonder:
- Are we interested in welcoming learners’ reflections so that we can design learning experiences to engage them as the individuals they have become?
- Are we interested in observing how they talk about the skills they have attained, so that we can capitalize on that and help them explore new sets of abilities?
- Does engaging with learners’ reflections awaken the desire of getting to know more about them, about the big ideas that are shaping their convictions, and about the possible ways in which their expertise can be useful in our learning experience?
- Are we able to see how acknowledging and making room for students’ legacy can help develop richer and more engaging experiences in the future?
- Do we take ownership of the contributions we have made to students’ development while valuing the way their learning styles and approaches to learning enriched our praxis?
- Do we generate opportunities for other peers of theirs to learn from the collective experience that is generated within the community?
- Do we know how to store the knowledge that our community generates?
This is just another day in the life of an ATL lover.
Below are some of the reflections students shared on their Personal Projects in which elements of the essence of ATL are captured.