Actively Learn once again is being featured from a PCMS classroom, this time Erin Kwok, who used it for 8th grade Readers Workshop. Groups were able to choose from a variety of novels and then were asked to participate in their discussion using Actively Learn. One group, who chose the novel The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, were able to share a little about why they enjoyed discussing their novel in Actively Learn.
Ms. Kwok posted questions in Actively Learn for the groups to respond to, then they could use the commenting tool to have a conversation with one another. A great aspect of running an online discussion in this format is that the students can tag one another with @Name, type their response and easily be a part of the conversation. As KK put it, “you are able to get more people’s input.”
Hannah noted that since it is online “you can express your actual feelings about the book” and that it is helpful when using Actively Learn because you can revise your thoughts before finishing your post.
Anh likes it because “they could discuss the book online and explain it to one another.” This helps students who might struggle with the book content to ask questions directly of their group members. They can even ask their questions from home and have classmates respond before class.
Fenne agreed with her group that it was easier to participate in the discussion instead of raising your hand in class since it made them feel safer.
This was the first time they had used Actively Learn in class and were asked how they could see it being used in other classes. Hannah and KK suggested that it be used for their POD groups where they often have more in-depth conversations or personal discussions and may not want to raise their hand to participate. Hannah noted that by using Actively Learn, quiet or shy students might be more likely to participate because they can think about what they want to say first before posting your response. Often students feel on-the-spot in a classroom discussion or are unlikely to participate, but on Actively Learn, it creates a conversational safe-place where everyone can participate.
From the teacher side of this, Ms. Kwok was able to monitor student discussions, grade, ask for resubmissions, and be a part of each groups conversation. Often when running a Readers Workshop she feels disconnected from student conversations, so this allowed her to really “hear” what her students had to say. She was happy to see students who often do not participate in a whole class discussion have very meaningful conversations with their classmates and offer insightful feedback for their groups.
Overall, it was a successful implementation of a workshop/book club style of discussion in Actively Learn.