Coming together with a shared purpose

Learning with a shared purpose:

  • students are tuned in
  • authentic learning takes place
  • connect the real world with what they are learning
  • shows expertise
  • honors knowledge
  • opportunities to explore, expand and collaborate
  • “I know something!”

Above are my initial implications of what learning with a shared purpose looks like. When our students, well any human being actually, have a purpose, then they are tuned in. If they can connect their learning to the real world, then authentic learning takes place. Our students come from all different background and have different background knowledge from one another. But, when we honor their knowledge and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise, they then explore, expand and collaborate. Which then leads them to share their “ah-ha” moments: “I know how about this, therefore…or I know something about this, therefore…”

When I was watching “No Water, No Life”: A Video by Detroit Future Schools and Youth from The Boggs School, I felt happy. I felt impressed. These young students did a fantastic way of relaying the message about the water issue. And, more importantly, they did it their way. Clearly, they were comfortable in front of the camera! While I loved watching their acting, I was drawn to their reflections after the news report. They mentioned topics like stereotypes, assumptions, exaggerations, awareness and brainstorming. They had a purpose, a shared purpose. They used what they knew, used their research and worked collectively with the digital media producer in order to produce!

Listening to Danielle Filipiak’s responses to the questions of pre-service teachers is so refreshing! Gosh, I just love her reactions to the questions and her passion behind the answers are so authentic! The second active participant asked Danielle, “How much time do you spend community building in your class?” Immediately, Danielle mentions that this time is spent at the beginning of the year. And I agree, it is so crucial to know our students. And also mentioned is that included in knowing our students, trust needs to be established between teacher and students, students and students, and they have to trust themselves.

My students and I love to share! We share our opinions and observations about activities, we share our interests and hobbies, we share our feelings (especially this week…we shared about how we want a longer spring break), we share about good and bad moments in life. My purpose listen, to help, to engage, TO MAKE THEM FEEL IMPORTANT!

Just this week, my 8th grade Spanish 1 students finished their “make” for the house chapter. As I mentioned in my post, “Reflecting on making…a maker’s experience,” they were to create their ideal house or apartment. I was so happy with the turn out! I have artistic (really, really artistic), creative, free-spirited, regimented, comical, fearful and timid students. Most of them found their niche in collaboration and created some really awesome houses/apartments. Some totally ran with the idea of using recyclable materials, like seen in Caine’s arcade, while others took the technology approach and used apps like Room Planner, Planner 5D and Minecraft! Watching them communicate and collaborate and help others was so breathe-taking. I really found the whole process emotional. The conversations, ideas and work was authentic. I really believe that they knew they had a purpose while making. I observe them communicate while working on worksheets and other activities, but this was different. And I had a role, too! And my role was really out of my comfort zone. But, I survived! After spring break, my students and I are going to reflect on the make and I am really looking forward to hearing about what they thought. Our shared purpose is to create authentic experiences that engage them in the target language and I cannot wait to continue on this journey with them! 🙂

I have a really positive story to share about this making experience! I have student who often is not committed to his work in my class. He doodles on ALL his work. I work one-on-one with him, but he says, “I don’t get it.” The class isn’t interesting to him. But, once he was presented with this opportunity to create, a totally different student emerged. He was immediately engaged. He started doodling/designing, brainstorming, scanning our makerspace for the best materials, aiding others in cutting and assembling and working diligently and committing! And when I read Chapter 6: Shared Purpose, in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, I was able to relate to the story of Roberto. I have finally seen my student’s ability to connect to the material through his interest in the arts and I am so proud!


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