‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and this week I have seen how the Ultranet village is enabling us to do just that.
Since the launch of the Loddon Mallee Literacy and Numeracy Challenge Collaborative Learning Space on Monday this week, I have rekindled that excited feeling you get when you know that magic is happening in your class. That feeling when you want to tell everyone about the amazing things your students are doing and you can’t wait to plan the next exciting project. When there is a buzz in the air and a spring in your step and you can’t wait to get to your classroom each day.
You know that real magic is happening when your students beat you to class in the morning and hang around well after the end of day school bell goes. Yesterday my first student arrived at 7:40am and the last one left after 8pm. I take that as a very positive sign that something I am doing is hitting the mark. The mark that is signified by an eagerness to participate and a hunger to contribute and to find out more.
My class is a fairly normal class in that it is about the fundamentals- Literacy and Numeracy. It is slightly larger than a normal class though as I am the teacher of a class of over 3800 students. A village of 3800 learners all discussing, collaborating and sharing their learning about Literacy and Numeracy. Of course I am not the only teacher in a class with so many students- there are 7 others. We ourselves discuss and collaborate on activities and opportunities for the students in our village to participate in.
Imagine a story being created by over 50 authors. That was Monday’s Literacy challenge- a line by line story. A collaborative story constructed by students of different schools, sexes, ages, year levels, family backgrounds and ability levels. It’s a non-discriminatory village this Ultranet village.
Yesterday was International Poem in Your Pocket day. A day dedicated to people sharing their favourite poems with others. Being a lover of poetry AND of reading to kids I was able to share one of my favourite children’s poems with an audience of over 100 P-2 students. Using Voicethread I was able to let the students see the poem as I was reading it aloud. I then had over 60 students post a response to the poem on the Ultranet space. How great it felt to be able to share a favourite poem with so many students and have them be able to enjoy in the fun of it too. We then had over 200 students share poems they had created with the rest of the village. What could be more purposeful and authentic than writing for an audience of over 200 other budding poets?
One of the most significant success factors in this village is the fact that is has grown from being ‘my’ class to ‘our’ class. The more collaborating that has occurred by the teachers of the class- the richer the community has become. It is a class without walls that is being led by a group of educators in a staffroom without walls. A staffroom of teachers with varying passions, curriculum focuses and ideas, combining their collective strengths for the benefit of the village of students who are eagerly waiting to be engaged, inspired and challenged. THAT is the power of the Ultranet village.
It has taken me 18 months of moving the rocks so I could finally reach the thriving village at the end of the road, but now that I am here I can look back and see that the closer you get to reaching the village, the more the power and magic of the village makes those rocks turn in to pebbles. The village is still being constructed and of course it can be frustrating when the shop you want to go to hasn’t been constructed yet, but gee-it is going to be a very exciting place for learning!