I am in the middle of a part e-mail / part MP3 interview with Bob Sprankle, an elementary school teacher in Maine. He is the producer of Room 208, a weekly podcast, written, organized, and performed by his 3rd and 4th grade students. Bob e-mailed his answers to me yesterday as an MP3 file, and I only just got a chance to listen to them yesterday evening, after a day-long workshop with a weirdly creative group of elementary teachers in Eastern North Carolina.
I’ve already started putting together a podcast for the assembled interview, but a couple of things that this amazing teacher said, were simply to important to wait. As is my nature, as an self-pronounced technology sceptic, I asked Mr. Sprankle, what his students were learning now, as podcasters, that they weren’t learning before. ..and I asked him to go beyond the technology skills that they were learning.
His answer was long, but I will include it in its entirity in the podcasts. But one part in particular deserves printing now. He said,
As students are in class learning, they are starting to think, “is this a podcasting moment?”…or in other words, is this learning relevant? Do I want to share this with the larger community? Is it important? Is it meaningful to me? If it’s not, why not. After all we want to spend our days doing something that is meaningful.
This is a profound statement. When students begin to filter what they are learning, through this desire to produce and publish, then they are thinking about their learning in terms of its context and in terms of their context. Bob goes on to say,
You can’t just fake it for the show. You’ve got to really get in there and understand this information in order to make this show. You’ve got to own it. Students constantly examine it, review it, because they’ve got to teach it.
That phrase, “You’ve got to own it”, is important. This should become a mantra for teaching in the 21st century. We’re educating too much for our own ownership, so that we can show what a great job we are doing as a society. Let’s figure out how to make our students the owners of their learning.