I am in the process of writing my final evaluative report on my journey through INF532 and have just experienced what I consider to be the most inspiring and re-affirming knowledge networking experience. This morning I was checking my Grade 4 class’s Integrated Studies Google Classroom stream for any questions or parent contacts. I admittedly haven’t had good look in a few days and was absolutely blown away when I came across several posts from students sharing resources.
To put this into context, we have been working towards writing a historical recount about Marco Polo’s journey. Students have been using videos, websites and books to gather and analyse information. It is also very important to note that I have not explicitly taught or even discussed with the class the power of sharing information on class online platforms.
So how did this happen?
About a week ago, I vaguely remember a student coming up to me mid-lesson, mid-chaos with an “amazing” website he had found about Marco Polo. Being preoccupied supporting another student I said and without knowing what would happen next, “Awesome, could you just post it on the classroom so we can look at it later?”
Later that day the magic started to happen.
Over the week students continued to find and share resources.
Although blown away by my students initiative, I was most overwhelmed and impressed by the way they responded and thanked each other. Their level of respect and gratitude gives me hope for the future on online communities. If these 8 year olds can independently and without guidance interact in an online space imagine the knowledge that could be co-constructed when expectations and procedures are put in place.
My next steps with my class is to discuss the power of knowledge networking within our classroom (both online and physical, advocating for a blended learning approach). I want to discuss and categorise how information shared can be deepened or extended by the way in which we respond in the comment section. How does posting a simple thanks vs comparing the resource to another make a difference?
With their help, I would love to co-write some sort of Google Classroom Guidelines, where expectations for participation are explicit, providing support and scaffolding for students.
Once establishing a strong knowledge networking community within our classroom, I want to discuss with students how opening and widening our community could be beneficial to our learning.
It is moments like this I realise how much I love teaching and my job. Without INF532 I probably wouldn’t have acknowledged the power of KN and therefore would not be affording the same opportunities to my students. I guess it also makes me realise the importance of professional renewal and growth.