Sunday, June 14, 2009

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye

I began this carnival in 2007 to promote both Active Learning and Educational Blogs. When I began the journey there were very few blogs about education and now there are 100,000’s of them.

I have regretfully come to the conclusion that there is no longer a need for this blog carnival and this is the last edition. I might resurrect it as a university only blog in the fall, but that has yet to be decided. My Active Learning links (1,200+) will remain available at or through clicking on the key words in the right hand column of this blog.

Best wishes to all my regular contributors, you have made a very time consuming process a pleasure.


June Carnival

I love music as a learning tool and Listen and Learn has provided many wonderful examples to us. Here is her latest song to accompany the book Down by the Station.

Myscha Theriault submitted some great resources in Spelling Activities: Twenty-Seven Ways to Practice in Style.

Kids Love Learning shared wonderful ideas for young children in Creative Hands on Learning.

I am pleased to inform you that one of our regular contributors to the carnival SharpBrains has recently published a book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Awesome Resources for Curious Teachers provides us with Project-Based Learning: Top 6 Resources.

TutorFi shares 10 Tips to Improve Your Math Skills Everyday.

Aptly named A Revolution in Fiction asks How to spark an interest in literature among today’s students? Creativity.

Dr. Michael Wesch’s Course Approach

I promised several people that I would write about Michael Wesch’s approach to teaching and how it might be used in a K-12 class. Dr. Wesch is famous for his video A Vision of Students Today.

The basic format is this:

  • First 3 weeks: exploration stage
  • Second 3 weeks: guided introduction to the field
  • Next 4 weeks: self-guided research
  • Due at 11th week: Research paper (followed by collaboration exercises)
  • Final (16th week): Share with world (video, website, etc.)

Exploration Stage

The purpose of this stage is to give students an opportunity to investigate current issues, practices, research and thinking in the discipline. Note that Dr. Wesch provides the resources for the students so they aren’t completely without guidance. They also have a task to complete that provides evidence of their thinking about the exploration. This stage provides a big picture of the role of the content they will be learning in the world, discipline, course or the individual lives of students.

Ex. Math

When I taught in the classroom, fractions were a stumbling block for many of my students and I usually began with exploring all the ways that fractions were used in their day-to-day lives. My students’ favourite was my bringing a cake or pizza to class which I then allowed them to cut into fractions and share. I usually chose a couple of poor math student for this task because most kids understand sharing equally and they started the lesson feeling like they could do fractions because they could cut the food. This was followed by a brainstorming session about all the ways people use fractions (pieces of things) every day.

Ex. Literature

Begin not with the individual books but with the concept of genre. Take the students on a trip to a library or bookstore and ask them to figure out how the books are organized. If that isn’t possible, ask them how they would find a book to read in the school library. Brainstorming all the categories you could put books into might also assist with this stage. Bring in some best seller lists and have them to identify which categories they represent. Ask them to identify their favourite genres. If you are studying a book this year from a previous century, ask them about how genres might have changed over time.

Guided Introduction to the Field

This is the standard teaching phase where they are actively involved in learning the primary concepts.

Self Guided Research

In Dr. Wesch’s class the students are developing their self directed research proposals during the Guided Introduction stage, these proposals are posted on a wiki and combined into a collaborative class research project. In a high school class, this might be a reasonable process but if the concept of proposing and collaborating on research is inappropriate that doesn’t mean that the class couldn’t have a discussion or brainstorming session about what type of information needs to be explored further and how the assignments might be divided up.

Ex. Math

In the fractions class, each student might be assigned to observe or ask their parents how they use fractions (measure, divide, calculate etc.)

Ex. Literature

This is the ideal class to list key themes from a book they are studying and brainstorm what types of research might students conduct about those themes including historical, cultural and individual implications.

Research Report

Wikis, videos and class blogs are great ways to share the results of the research whether individual or collaborative.

Ex. Math

Have students identify categories (home, trades, restaurants, scientists, doctors, artists) and list how their parents use fractions under the different categories.

Ex. Literature

This is the perfect class for using a wiki that might be organized under specific themes where students post what they learned.


The impact of this process is heightened if they share the wiki/blog/video with parents, another class or the world. If you need to restrict outside access, the fact that students have an opportunity to see and learn from each others work can be very powerful.