The first Student-Led Conferences which focused on student eportfolios and their IB learning was a stunning success. Around 90% of Grade 6 through 8 parents made time to attend and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Students not only took pride in discussing their learning, they also spoke with authority on their understanding of IB Areas of Interaction and Learner Profile. They also provided ample evidence of how they are developing and applying such learning. This forms a strong basis for further development as independent, academic learners.
Well done to all teachers, administrators and students on their contributions as a true learning community.
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Recently ThinkLab has been involved in working with Grade 8 students on using Photoshop as a general creative digital tool. Apart from their increased capacity to effectively take on higher-order tools / function, such as those provided through Photoshop and Flash, what struck me was the use of support documents. Previously students would use a paper adjunct to go through required steps. This time students had a choice of paper or video (Through Atomic Learning). Practically none chose paper, some made use of Atomic Learning, and most took my one demonstration (of the Burn and Dodge Tool) to experiment with its capabilities.
This movement away from any need for paper support was also evident when we worked with students on presenting their learning through use of word documentation. They preferred to highlight, snapshot, move, insert and organise all their information digitally.
This apparent move to a briccolage approach even for advanced packages means we have to possibly re-think our approach to skill development in such areas (particularly also when there is likely to be advanced expertise in the room where students have taken upon themselves to develop advanced skills).
This has not only environmental implications, but also for how information can be presented and processed.
Other issues to come out of our Photoshop 'explorations' include the increased engagement of boys in art through the increased capacity to 'touch-up' over than having to re-start.
Finally an interesting theoretical consideration is whether we are teaching and learning with such advanced packages in appropriate ways. Jonah Lehrer talks about the differences between knowing where to look (with confidence) versus preference for lock-step support reference materials. The former links to trial and error approaches where powerful schemas and learning refinements based on learning from mistakes can occur. Too much of the latter may well be indicative of learning shortcomings in the digital age. What then for those who digitally work purely from lock-step? Lehrer talks about possible negative responses that can arise, such as choking (explicit learning shortfall) or panic (implicit learning shortfall). We need to be aware and ready for such eventuations.