TCHERS' VOICE / Technology in the Classroom

Going Public With Students’ Work

Center for Teaching Quality

In late February, Pew Internet and American Life Project published the How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and Their Classrooms report. The results aren't surprising:

  • 92% of teacher respondents say the Internet has a "major impact" on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching;
  • 69% say the Internet has a "major impact" on their ability to share ideas with other teachers; and
  • 67% say the Internet has a "major impact" on their ability to interact with parents and 57% say it has had such an impact on enabling their interaction with students.

It's commendable that a majority of teachers are finding ways to bring digital tools into the learning process and help students "access content." But now we need to work with students to create content as well.

Douglass Rushkoff, a prolific writer on the topic of technology and society, asks: "The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it?"

Yes, our students need information literacy skills. But they also need the ability to code, curate, and create content to share with a wider audience. When students can reach an audience of more than one (their teacher), they can get feedback from variety of sources, become more invested in their work, and gain valuable skills in the process.

So what does taking students' work public look like? Check out some examples:

Mrs. Paluch's Room

Mrs. Paluch, a third grade teacher in a charter school in Philadelphia, is making her students' work public as they uncover the country of Brazil, complete a unit on fairy tales, and help out their kindergarten buddies. Parents, grandparents, and colleagues can catch a glimpse of the teaching and learning that is happening in this third grade classroom. Knowing that others will "see their work" motivates students and helps teachers like Mrs. Paluch reflect on their practice.

Monmouth County Vocational School District Student Showcase

Sarah Mulhern Gross offers a glimpse into an entire school community, pausing to highlight excellent student work. On this blog, you will find examples of student writing, artwork, presentations and much more. Carving out a space to give student work a digital spotlight emphasizes the point that students are writers and creators and not just consumers of content.

[SLA]ng Magazine

SLAng Magazine coverDuring the second quarter, my students at the Science Leadership Academy produced a teen magazine. After examining articles after which they could model their own work, they created their own teen magazine, covering topics such as music, art, time management, and Philadelphia’s food scene. My students learned about everything from research to writing to design and layout. So far, more than 2,000 people have clicked on our magazine and examined the students’ work.

What are some examples you've seen lately that make students' work public in compelling ways, motivating learners and letting community members know what actually happens in the classroom?

Center for Teaching Quality is writing a series of blogs in partnership with Teaching Channel. CTQ is transforming the teaching profession through the bold ideas and expert practices of teacher leaders.

Meenoo Rami is a National Board Certified English teacher at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. She also runs a weekly twitter chat for English teachers via #engchat. She is a teacher consultant with the National Writing Project and a member of the Center for Teaching Quality's Collaboratory.

Hi Meenoo, Our students at National Teachers Academy (Chicago Public School) are taking part in Twitter Tuesdays. Teachers pose a question to students and they respond via Twitter. So far, they have responded to questions about our school community. Please follow us at #ntalearns. Here is a link to this week's discussion:
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What amazing work your students are doing Meenoo! I am jealous! I would love to get my first graders more involved in the use of technology and making their work public. Unfortunately for us, technology is part of the problem. We have 4 classroom computers that are 9 years old and don't support much! I do make my students' work and what we do in the classroom public through posting our classroom work, performances, pictures of activities, etc, online for parents and other interested parties. Would love to see what other primary teachers are doing in their classrooms and how they utilize technology with their students. Would also love to get ideas on what younger students should be doing so that they are ready to create and publish online work like your students!
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Sharing and creating content seems, to me, to be a journey. One that you start slowly and one that you can co-learn with your students along the way. You asked for is ours. In my school, we've always had a paper school newspaper. This year we're moving to a blog so that we are continually updating information and no one has to wait to publish their story. It has been an interesting journey. For me, as the sponsor, to still guide and help without intervening too much. Next to help students not only become writers and photographers but also editors....and getting middle schoolers anxious to draft, edit and polish their work is no small task. But I agree with your premise and I think our newspaper is one example.
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Just finished reading (SLA)ng Magazine...incredible! I can't wait to show it to my students Monday. Well done team (SLA)ng. I am glad you are our future.
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Debbie, Thank you. Please let us know what your students think of the magazine. Marsha, Thank you for sharing the link to your school newspaper, check out what SLA journalism students are creating at Jane, what would it look like if your class had a blog and you can give different students an opportunity to write. Carrie, Love the idea of twitter tuesday. I think this is a great example of building school culture using technology. Thanks for your feedback.
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