Thursday, July 14, 2011

What happens when you let 13 year old students take control of their own learning?

Been thinking of how to write this post for a while ... and have decided to just let the student work speak for itself.
What follows are some examples of student work from a group of 13 year old girls who have were challenged to do something that they would be proud of ... something that they could show their parents and teachers that what they had done was of value to both them and to others as well.
First up is a website that a couple of girls put together for our Social Sciences faculty in an attempt to revamp their resources for teaching a unit to Year 8 students on biosecurity. These girls actually placed 3rd in the TVNZ Netguide Web Challenge last year.

Another student created a website on the holocaust, inspired by her religious studies teacher.

This student has a sporting outlook on life - so she set herself a goal of developing a website that looks at sports for the 2012 London olympics.

If you have a good look at all of these sites, you'll see the quality of the work these girls have put in. Add to this the fact that they had to research the various tools (eg Weebly, Google sites, Wix, Yola etc) to find the one that gave them the result that they were looking for. In most cases that meant that first choices of web building tool was not the one that made the cut ... often girls found that the site they had chosen didn't give them the outcome they wanted and they had to go back and rethink their choices. Add to this that they had to find the tools themselves ... little or no direction came from me ... the "guide" said "you know what the task is ... you find the tool to suit".

Another project these students were asked to do was to tell a digital story using Scratch software ... so there was some restriction here ... they had to use Scratch (it was a programming module after all), but the students had free range of the story they wanted to tell - the only requirement again was that they needed to be proud of their work. To be honest, many of the students produced outstanding work, but I chose this one to show here ... the sound is poor (haven't worked out why), but the student who created this had never used Scratch before and her story was a well known Maori legend ... enjoy it

 Ultimately, the girls all reported that they had learned a lot and enjoyed the freedom of choice of project. The quality of work speaks volumes for the spirit in which the girls approached these projects. I hope you enjoy them.

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