My Year 9 Social Studies have embraced not only the use of myPortfolio but also our new constructivist approach.
We are currently studying Maori culture. First I need to point out that I did not pick this topic at all. When I asked the kids what they wanted to learn now, they said they wanted to learn about Maori culture. I was selfishly very pleased with this choice as I know very little about the
topic and I am eager to learn.
The kids were then put into groups and had to chose into their group an aspect about the culture they wanted to study. Once again they all came up with great ideas. For instance, a group is looking at weaving, another one Tattoo and another one at war between Pakehas and Maoris. The only requirement is to use your brain. They have to think and use the SOLO Taxonomy in order to increase their thinking skills.
I was very happy to see that each group discussed their topic (they all had to agree and make compromises) and they delegated the work to each member. What surprised me the most is their maturity as they can be very silly at times =) But what pleased me the most was to see that a boy who is usually very timid and does not participate at all in class, was actually very active within his group.
Thanks to myPortfolio this shy boy will be able to show his classwork to his parents, will be able to reflect on his work and progress and especially see for himself the progress he has made.
As for the SOLO Taxonomy, I am still happy that we are using it to scaffold our thinking skills. The kids always make reference to our poster of the Taxonomy in class. The use of the SOLO has not only increased their thinking ability but it has also pushed them upwards. What I mean is that now they are no longer happy with the bare minimum, they push themselves to always think of a better way, a better question and are capable of seeing if they are underworking and how to get better. The SOLO taxonomy supports reflecting as much as myPortfolio.
One thing is very funny now in class, is that my role has dramatically (and for the best)changed =) the students are SO engaged and so independent that I feel very obsolete.
I think that I as a teacher am now obsolete but my role as a facilitator is primordial and very active. Because the students are now in charge of their own learning, I am no longer at the front of the class. Instead I am sitting among them and I can go around and help them. I actually now have more time to spend with the kids to enhance their learning.
It is now the end of Term 3 and all is well in our Social Studies class.