I’ve been a fan of Web 2.0 for the last few years now. In such a short time, we’ve developed tools for engaging with web-enabled content and putting students at the centre of learning, where they belong. As ‘the read-write web’ becomes more and more sophisticated, we’re seeing cloud computing tools that now supplant device-based computing and are really starting to shake things up.
In the last couple of months, I’ve been exploring how a whole-school literacy focus might benefit from using teacher- and student-created templates in Google Docs. Many of the teachers that I’ve worked with in this time are amazed that they can create skeleton documents, presentations and drawings that model the elements of structured thinking and give students the language and framework for developing their ideas. Many of these may be highly specialised or subject-specific, while others might be general enough to apply across key learning areas.
In one of my own classes, I developed the following Podcast Review Template as a tool to help students critically respond to many of the brilliant ABC Radio National and BBC podcasts that I often use in my lessons. I needed the template to be flexible enough to apply to most of the podcasts I use at the same time as flagging the key elements I wanted students to consider, including:
- unexamined issues
When trying the template with my class, I noticed two very interesting things. First, brighter, more able kids were quick to adapt and tweak the language I had used in the templates, sometimes shifting paragraphs around, amalgamating ideas (e.g. where the fact that there is an unexamined issue reflects the bias of a particular key speaker), and so on. Weaker kids were able to rely more on the sentence stems I had provided and, in so doing, produce a reasonably polished piece of writing. The fact that it’s the product that is the primary focus (as opposed to answers to set questions in a text book) means that right from the start, there is a clear purpose and an even clearer way forward.