Saturday, February 19, 2011

What Can We Do Now?

In Thursday’s class we were fortunate enough to have yet another inspirational speaker present to our class.  Darren Kuropatwa, who is the Conseiller pédagogique for the Bureau de l'éducation française, spoke to our class about how we are assessing students.  He pointed out to us that schools do an excellent job of providing real audiences for the school’s athletes, and the school’s musicians, and for drama productions.  As soon as an audience is provided for students it adds another element, as students want to be sure they do a great job in front of this audience.  However when we are assessing students in EAL, Science, Math, Social Studies, etc. we do not provide the students with an audience to display to what they have learned.  If we could provide some sort of audience to showcase the student’s learning to, would this not be more beneficial to student learning and would it not make assessment and learning more realistic for the students?

During the presentation Darren showed us a video from YouTube of a Grade 5 class singing ‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks.  He went on to tell us a story behind the video – apparently the class teacher made a habit of recording his students performing and posting the videos to his blog and to YouTube for the student’s friends and family to view.  The story goes that Stevie Nick’s manager came across the video and showed it to Stevie.  She was so impressed and touched by the video that she invited the class to her sound check when she was performing in New York’s Madison Square Gardens.  The class had the opportunity to perform their rendition of ‘Landslide’ to Stevie Nicks and she spoke with each child after the performance.  Now talk about providing an audience to showcase what you have learned!  I thought this story was phenomenal and just illustrated how the Internet can not only connect us but provide us with some amazing opportunities.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could provide more opportunities like this for our students?  I think the first step in doing so, is allowing students to publish their work and their thoughts to the Internet whether it be a video that they make, a performance, through blogging, or social networking, and seeing what kind of learning opportunities this publishing of work can provide to the students.

Darren also discussed with us how he has incorporated the use of Flickr into his Math classes.  I found this very interesting.  Darren would create assignments for the students to apply what they were learning in math class to real life situations, and through the use of Flickr he was able to provide them with a place to publish their learning and comment on each other’s learning.  For an example, Darren asked his class to take a picture of quadratic functions that they encounter in their daily life.  They would then post this image and tag it with notes, explaining the quadratic functions.  Brilliant! This idea of using Flickr to demonstrate and apply learning could be adapted and used in so many different subject areas.

Darren provided us with a few more examples of how we can use the internet to increase student learning and how we can provide an audience for assessing student’s work, rather than relying on pencil and paper tests and assignments.  I believe that it would be beneficial to students if we can provide them with more opportunities like the ones Darren mentioned.  However some of these opportunities will be dependent on the school division or school that you may work in.  I think Darren’s presentation and ideas are yet another reason to be advocating for more computers and internet resources to be available to both teachers and students in the classroom.  We need to make learning as interactive and engaging as possible for our students and technology provides us with endless possibilities to do so, effectively.  


  1. Darren gave us good ideas of using internet in education. I also liked his ideas of using flicker in the math classroom. In my student teaching placements, students asked me questions about the use of math in real life. Most of students think that higher math is a useless stuff. Relating real life situations with math using technology will motivate students to understand math deeply. This can also be helpful in engaging students in other subjects.

  2. I'm always stuck by students, and often teachers, who feel that unless we can show a real world application for the mathematics they're learning we're doing them a disservice.

    I feel very differently about this.

    The way I see it we learn math for three basic reasons:

    (1) for work; to help us do our jobs

    (2) to participate as a citizen in our democracy

    (3) transcendence ... it's just so beautiful!

    We tend to focus overmuch on #1 and overlook just how engaging it can be, for teachers and students, to focus on #2 & #3 more.