Least Tern > Workshops > But not Least > Learning and Lobstering
But not Least...
The Master and Collaborator
Teacher Tasks and Permissions
The Teacher Tasks
The teacher's tasks are to structure (construction, rule-making), guide, collaborate and assess. It is hard work to challenge students to actively seek and use the ideas of others (and of themselves) as part of the "data pool." This means structuring the Collaboration tasks (creating groups, establishing goals, systems, challenges, providing materials), structuring the Filtering Tasks (requiring review, requiring opinions and explanations), structuring the Assessments (providing rubrics or checklists or guiding their construction, structuring assessment time and process), structuring ongoing opportunities for Feedback, and being the master in charge of Permissions. How this is accomplished will be a function of the assignment and the abilities of the students. However, there are five processes that must be part of the teacher component of any learning task that seeks to teach the Filtering skills for necessary for technology use:
First, the teacher must ask questions that have more than one answer, even if the multiple answers are all short and concrete;
Second, the teacher must require that collaborative groups reach and communicate agreement about collaborative tasks (Why as well as What);
Third, the teacher must require that cooperative and independent tasks be assessed collaboratively;
Fourth, the teacher must model and affirm the permissions that will enable students to participate in Feedback and Assessment activities.
Fifth, she must be the penultimate collaborator, modeling a vocabulary for Assessment and Feedback. This dual role is difficult, but essential, for teachers are teaching not only content, but also learning skills the goal of which is ultimately to create independent and confident learners.
This is hard work.
Luckily, many resources are available online to support the teacher. We have collected those that we think are the best. Many of these are collaborative in nature; as is fitting, for the teacher must collaborate in order to learn how to collaborate with her students. Our listings are:
- Resources for Learning About Teaching with Technology - the ListServ and Read About Technology Integration listings are especially relevant
- Pedagogy and Tools - includes software and online applications that encourage development of the Filtering skill, Resources for Further Study, and Modules & Models for Project Development
Permissions - The Collaborative Constitution
Central to the Feedback and Assessment process are Permissions. In brief, these are group and individual "rights and responsibilities" that provide a firm foundation for individual growth in a group environment. It is the Teacher's task to name, define and require (enforce, underscore, model) these permissions. We believe that a Collaborative Constitution should be developed in classrooms that are serious about Filtering, Collaboration and Inquiry. The constitution must include:
- Permission to hold and express ideas;
- Permission to raise questions;
- Permission to apply agreed upon criteria to the evaluation of another's product or learning task step;
- Permission to be assessed;
- Permission to change opinion, direction or content as a result of assessment (permission to filter).
This is a lot of permissions in a school culture of teacher-centered learning! Supporting this Constitution requires a great deal of Feedback and Assessment. In fact, it requires that Feedback and Assessment be applied to every step of a research project, inquiry activity or collaborative project. A final Feedback (Product) and a final Assessment are often necessary, but learning comes from the many small feedback opportunities and assessments along the way. Feedback and Assessment tasks develop from an early age a language for collaboration and the ability to adjust and value one's own ideas or product as a result of the collaborative process. These are essential skills for surviving in this technological age.
E. Sky-McIlvain 2/3/04