Keeping the momentum going

7:01 PM / Posted by Lenva /

I read with interest Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's article on Building and Sustaining a Learning Community.
It is discussed here that purpose and common interest are perhaps the two essential ingredients to building a learning community and I am discovering that the principles applied here also relate to the use of Web2.0 in the classroom. The interest in, and the use of the tools (blogs, wikis and podcasts) must be sustainable. As I work with middle school students, I have found the best way to do this is to ensure that each wiki, blog or podcast has an authentic theme or purpose and once that is exhausted, then the blog or wiki is complete and doesn't need to be added to unless something else crops up.
Wikis are very exciting, and we are experimenting with some different ones at the moment but all have clear purposes. These wikis have been especially set up to address a need and will exist for as long as the need is there, and their use is essential to the learning of the users.
One group of students are working on collaborative stories.
They work from home or anywhere, meeting only at school to discuss twists and turns in the plot. They are totally motivated for the course of the story, but once it is finished the wiki will lie dormant (although read by others, so perhaps not so dormant).
Several class groups are working on an inquiry into human rights and community rights.
This one is completed at school in a collaborative environment using the inquiry approach.
Last term we used literature circles blogs as part of a novel study. These blogs were so successful that many classes want to try it for themselves. A couple currently underway is a literature circle on Goodnight Mister Tom and a novel study on Boy Overboard.

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