This year, we modified the process, which has gone more smoothy. Students are already seeing their growth, understanding the value of stepping back to look at progress and its meaning. Even more exciting to me has been the explosion of individualistic self-expression that has resulted from this freedom to learn from one's work. Several students have taken my mantra, "You can always do more than I ask, but never less..."* to heart. They have made their websites reflections of themselves. Others have gone forward in creating new websites using the same platform to espouse personal interests. Two such sites are here: Duck Facts by Jordan which seems to be a Genius Hour project in the making, and a grade-level site designed to help all the students help each other! Homework Site
I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of either one of these sites. Both came from my getting out of the way. The students asked for their own page on Edmodo that was unrelated to the class assignments page. I gave it to them, and it has become the go-to source of "I was home sick today. What did I miss?" On this page, I told students I would be monitoring the chatter. Only once have I had to ask a student to delete a post. It was never intended to be demeaning, as I know this student well, and he/she would never hurt anyone, ever. However, adults know that words read differently online, and this was the first of what is likely to be many learning opportunities.
It does take constant checking on who is saying what, replying privately to students, and helping students one-on-one, especially those who are technologically challenged. I feel strongly, however, that the extra time I have devoted to the endeavor will have farther reaching effects than I or my colleagues can imagine.
I suppose the next step will be shifting into hyperspace as we embark on a piece of PBL upon our return to school following winter break. I always love this unit because I learn something new every year. Last year, I learned that Interpol has jurisdiction in 190 countries around the world, including Comoros, which I'd never heard of. Carry on, my young friends! Carry on!
*A debt of gratitude to my art mentor Chery Baird for teaching me the value of this instruction.