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.