Yesterday I explored the notion of
digital immersion. In response to some of the comments I received I suggested that we something other than the traditional cascade model of development if we are to see real change.
When I first became Head Teacher at DunbarGrammar School I invited first year pupils to complete a project of their own choice over the summer holidays. It was completely voluntary, with the pupils being able to choose any topic they wished. I committed myself to personally reading each project and offering a comment – thinking that few kids would take up my offer. Boy was I wrong!! When we got back from the break over 40 projects were submitted – out of a year group of 120. I still remember being blown away by the quality and range of topics. Two of the projects were submitted by Iain Thompson and Katie Revell, now Head Boy and Head Girl respectively of the school. I still remember their submission The Sharpe Novels (Iain) and Stone age homes in Orkney (Katie). I met them both a few weeks ago and they remember doing the projects and said it had been one of the best things they had done in school over the past six years. Now maybe they were just trying to keeping me happy – but I vividly remember the obvious commitment shown by all pupils to their work. It’s important to point out that many of the projects were submitted by ‘non-academics’ and as many boys took part as girls. I didn’t mark the essays but wrote a side of A4 in response to each project (I suppose this was formative assessment) and then returned the work during an assembly.
Unfortunately I didn’t repeat the exercise, although we played around with a project called
extreme learning a few years ago in school with
Duncan Smeed (who first introduced me to the notion of blogging) although the project suffered from some technical difficulties
(see discussion thread)
I wonder of we could try something similar on an authority wide basis, i.e. seek volunteer pupils to take part in projects of their own choice using weblogging technology?