Sitting Next to the Smart Kids…

When people always ask me why I use Twitter or have a PLN my first response is because it is like sitting next to the smart kids in class.  You know what I’m talking about, there is always that group of smarties and sitting next to them makes class just a little bit easier.  Growing up I was the head cheerleader with ADHD so people sat next to me for a whole different reason – to socialize. But by the end of high school I figured out if I was going to go to the private college of my choice I needed to be more serious in class.  So I started sitting next to the smart kids, the ones that were not as cool, but I liked them, they taught me a lot.  Luckily by senior year in the advanced classes was only the smart kids.  Academically – my favorite year.

I still have that mindset, hang out with people you not only can have fun with but learn from.  That is where collaboration comes into the picture.  Another thing I am taking away with me from #ISTE10 is how important collaboration really is. Last post was about creavitity, but I think collaboration backs up the quest to creatively produce something.  It gives feedback from more than just the teacher as well a push for doing more than just the bare minimum.

Backchanneling was a common theme I noticed throughout the week.  I even went to a backchannel session and participated in others.  During one session I was bored to death so opened up the backchannel to a session I wished I had chosen, I was learning from my PLN when not even there.  We saw how powerful the backchannel was during the PLN session when people from all over the country were participating in the conversation about their PLN.

We talk so much about how important our PLN is to us. We use backchannels, blogs, and twitter to share our ideas, but stop short from giving our students that opportunity.  Students need to share what they are learning as they learn it.  They need to have others to bounce ideas off of.  Even more they need to help each other.  Isn’t that what we do in our PLN, help each other?  Learning takes on a whole new level when it is done with others.

Collaboration needs to be more than just group work – even though working in groups can be part of it.  They need to have a place where they share ideas and thoughts at any time.

My biggest challenge I think will be setting up rules and procedures for this.  Before beginning these rules need to be made clear, just like in any event in your classroom.  If you have any ideas let me know – MS kids can just be mean and weird.

I plan on using this different type of collaboration much more next year.  Our students need the opportunity to sit next to the smart kids or even better – BE THE SMART KID!