Yesterday, we began an American author research project with Erika Carden and her students; most of our Media 21 students from 2010-11 now have Carden as their English teacher. After reviewing the pathfinder, students settled happily and busily into the virtual and print resources as they began their research. To my delight, I noticed several of my students opening and using their Evernote and Diigo accounts with no prompting; they were using the tools out of an intrinsic motivation, not an external one (like a project requirement). I also noticed some of them showing their peers how to use these tools and saw the peers jumping headfirst as well.
What happened next is the stuff of which my teaching dreams are made: Carden noticed students using these social bookmarking/notetaking tools and asked two of the students to go around the library and share their expertise with peers. The students became the experts and taught their peers how to use the bookmarking/notetaking tools to meet an information management need. Consequently, more students discovered the joys and benefits of Evernote and Diigo.
Seeing these students apply the use of these learning tools from an intrinsic source of motivation and then becoming the experts to teach their peers is probably one of the most gratifying experiences of my career—I hope that the work I’m doing with teachers this academic year will help plant more seeds for learning experiences like this for more students in 2010-11!