Last year I spent some time throughout the school year snapping photos of student work that was displayed in the hallways and classrooms, creating slideshows using PhotoPeach, and posting “I Spy” tours of our student learning displays on our school websites to share with parents.
I Spy, March 5! on PhotoPeach
I admit that I have not been posting these slideshows regularly this year, and today I made a commitment to do so, because there is so much fantastic learning going on in our school! But then I considered why I didn’t feel as compelled to do this.
It’s not because what I see in the hallways or classrooms is any less enthralling or interesting than it’s been in the past … it’s because more teachers and students are sharing student work and learning themselves! It’s like we’ve all been infected with some sort of wonderful, crazy, addictive sharing disease that is spreading like wildfire throughout our school!
My teachers have grown so much in their willingness to engage students in different types of learning experiences throughout this year. Much of our increased ability to share student work can be attributed to the use of social media and the integration of new tools to enhance student engagement with the content.
Our primary students have created Voicethreads and teamed up with intermediate grade reading buddies to create digital stories with Little Bird Tales. They’re trying Voki, Skyping with virtual pen-pals (check out their visitor map!), and have really been dedicating time to writing on their blogs. We’re sharing our school events with descriptive slideshows.
Intermediate students have been broadening conversations with Today’s Meet, working with Xtranormal, garnering input for math data projects with Google forms, and creating Voicethreads. We’ve jumped into collaborating with Google Docs and students use Glogster to summarize their learning. They’re engaging in conversations with their families and visitors around the world! One of our fifth grade classes created a video tour of our school to share with their Oregon penpals, and some students even participated in our staff Sharing Showcase last week! I’ve seen some very eager Prezi creators, and enjoyed reading these Kidblog reading reflections. Our school “newspaper” has been moved online to help easily share our students’ writing and project work. Parents and teachers can more easily comment on what’s happening!
The benefits of sharing are endless. Parents have a wide open window into classroom happenings. Students are connecting with other teachers and students throughout our country and world. Students are active, engaged, and motivated learners in these experiences. Teachers’ and student excitement is spreading…
Initially, I believe the teachers that felt comfortable risk-taking and trying new ideas with students were hesitant to share their joys about the process, for fear of “bragging” or looking they were trying to out-do their grade level colleagues. Similarly, I think teachers were timid about sharing the struggles they experienced throughout the change, worried that their frustrations might dissuade other teachers from taking risks themselves. We need to overcome this mindset. We need to encourage growth in ourselves and others.
Reading Shelley Wright‘s post this morning, I knew I immediately would share her words with my teachers, because her message to Improvise, Learn, Don’t Regret is one that I want my teachers, and students, to embrace. She has taken the time to document her journey into project-based learning and share that experience with all of us. We have gained insight, perspective, and appreciation for the process because she has done so. This doesn’t happen without honest transparency.
Thank you, Justin, for the challenge to share the wonderful things happening in our schools! We all need to spread the sharing bug… it’s an ailment worth enduring!
8 Replies to “Sharing is contagious!”
This is an awesome post! I think it’s fantastic that lots of your teachers are sharing their own stories about their individual classrooms. That is a perfect example of your teachers feeling empowered to share and celebrate some of the awesome things they are doing.
I really enjoyed your sentence, “parents have a wide open window into classroom happenings.” This cannot be emphasized enough…it is absolutely crucial that we increase transparency and get more members of our communities involved in our schools. Schools are no longer isolated islands that function as individual structures…education is a group effort, and for us to be successful we need to get everyone involved.
Thanks for accepting my challenge and I look forward to hearing more about your school’s efforts!
Thanks for the challenges, Justin. Posts like this are simple to compile and meaningful to share, because “bragging” about our school is one of my favorite things to do. 🙂
Such amazing work from kids! I love that you’re able to share this with us. Some schools don’t let their teachers share student work online without a lot of red tape. So glad that you’re empowering your kids in this way!
Thanks, Michelle! We’re all so excited about what our kids are doing each day!
Great post Lyn! Not only is this a great example of teachers sharing what’s going on, it’s also a great example of how an administrator can share what’s happening with stakeholders in the community and beyond. You’re right, sharing is very contagious! It’s something we all have to keep doing.
Kyle, thanks for sharing my post and commenting! I always learn a lot from the resources you share, thanks for adding to the sharing party! 🙂
This was the first post I’ve read on your blog, but I enjoyed it very much.
I came across your site as part of my research for a graduate class while looking for active professional sites/ forums. I have always enjoyed seeing what is working, or even not working, for others so that I can, in turn, better address my own “best practices”. Now, with blogs such as The Principal’s Post, I’ll have the opportunity to view such working ideas well outside of my own little bubble of the world in southern Maryland. As a teacher born, raised and educated in PA, I’m extremely excited to see technology, sharing and the like flourishing. These ideas and approaches were, sadly, never part of the educational mentality when I was attending public school there. Great, great stuff to see if now.
While finding your site was by chance, I’ll be sure to check back often to see what you and your school are up to. I’ll also be sure to pass word of your site along to my peers in my own school to further the message.
Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment and add to the conversation. Be sure to check out Connected Principals http://www.connectedprincipals.com for some amazing examples of leadership, teaching, and student engagement! If you need anything with your graduate research, don’t hesitate to ask!