My personal learning journey came from watching my students as they continued to surprise me with their excitement to learn, engage, and take charge of their learning. After reading articles on how students can benefit by getting to choose what they want to learn, I decided to try this with my class. I have a fifth- and sixth-grade combination class that can be at times a challenge to juggle.
My first step was to create a Padlet about what their passions were. Each student was open to talk about what they were interested in. Padlet is a great resource, free to educators as an open platform for students to share information and ideas with each other.
What I discovered was that many students had the same passions. With that in mind, I asked them to get into groups that shared the same passions to do a research project. The combinations were better than I could have designed. One combination was a sixth-grade girl and a fifth-grade boy, another was two-fifth grade boys with a sixth-grade girl, and there were even more diverse groups. However, since they shared the same passions and weren’t put into the groups, they were excited about the research they were going to do.
The next step was to give them time to research and design a presentation using Google Slides or Prezi, both which are great collaborative tools for presenting. In addition to their presentations, they created a Google Form, which was a short quiz that participants could take after viewing the presentations. This project was coming together very well, and the students enjoyed the process and the time spent getting to know other students who had the same passions as themselves. However, I wanted a platform in which they could share with each other, so instead of creating a hyperdoc for them I had them create a hyperdoc for each other.
The hyperdoc was a Google Doc created by me with columns identifying what elements I wanted each student to input to share. It was uploaded onto the Google Classroom as an editable document. The students were given multiple columns that would link their projects for everyone to see and engage with. The first column was their link to their initial Padlets. The second link was to a previous project that introduced who they were. I created it in iMovie, but it could have just as easily been created with Flipgrid. The third column asked for a short summary with a title for their presentation in the form of a tweet with a hashtag. The fourth column was their Google Slide, the fifth their Google Form, and the last column was a quick presentation via iMovie or Flipgrid about their passion. All were linked via QR code and hyperlink generated by the students.
This document turned out as an excellent display for Open House in showcasing what we want from our students—the ability to collaborate, communicate, use critical thinking, be creative, and present as a 21st century learner. In addition, it was an enjoyable research project in which the students looked forward to sharing their passions with others. As for my personal learning, I found that giving students the flexibility of choice was a very powerful engagement tool; they should be given opportunities to differentiate what they learn and how to present it.
Sample of what the finished hyperdoc looks like.
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.