This iBook project was a challenge for me on many different levels. First of all, our objective seemed too vague. I feel like we needed a lot more guidance so that we would have a clearer more cohesive picture of what our end product was supposed to look like. I understand that giving students a choice is empowering but, a completely hands-off approach can be bewildering. From a teaching perspective, I feel that students need to be clear about their objective in order to be successful.
Working with iBook is interesting and fun but one of the biggest issues I had was finding balance between style and substance. How much of that iBook page is me and how much is linked to others work? How much of the book should be devoted to flora and fauna and wildlife, and how much should be devoted to multicultural issues, politics and history? We only had a limited amount of time so in order to do our best work we needed a clear plan of attack.
I took a class last year where we discussed how to structure successful literature circles. Supports need to be put in place early on in order for the groups to become autonomous as the year progresses. Specific roles are assigned within the group, regular teacher/student conferences are scheduled and student reflection journals are checked in order to evaluate student understanding, time is carved out for group reflection/evaluation time.
This is the kind of structure that I think would benefit any kind of group work in any class. I understand that we are in a graduate class but, considering the nature of the project, a certain amount of structure is essential. I would have like to see some time carved out for teacher/group conferences in order to really look at the work, individually and as a whole, to see where it is going.
The editing/proofreading groups we had at the end of the class were amazing. If this could be structured into the process early on, it would be extremely helpful. It allowed me to see what other people were doing, which gave me ideas on how I could improve my work. It also created a space where I could get at least five other pairs of eyes on my work proofreading and evaluating for content.
This project was a great learning experience. At the beginning of the class, you said that you consider yourself to be a designer of learning experiences. Struggling through this process of putting an iBook together, I clearly see the importance of design- scaffolding, clear objectives, and varied and frequent assessments. With the right preparation and supports in place students can be successful doing the messy work of learning.