Thursday, 27 August 2015

Authentic Audiences

When my students write, speak, share or collaborate it is generally only within the four walls of my classroom. This annoys me because I know that there is just so much more out there.

Students are scared when it comes to putting their work up on the wall let alone sharing it with the school or the world!

We were having a discussion a wee while ago on #EngChatNZ about authentic audiences and I think it's truly critical. Whether it's a TedTalk or some sort of broadcast discussing an important issue.

Id honestly like to see my students break oit of their comfort zones but the reality is they don't know that they have one and the way our assessments are set up - I'm enabling them to not push themselves out of their comfort zones.

The other issue of course is student's ability - whether percieved, believed or actual. Breaking students out of that mindset is a constant and daily struggle because on one hand they don't have the confidence to share with a bigger audience and on the other hand they may not have been given the opportunity to learn that way before so might not have basic skills to do this.

However, like Frances said at the MindLab session earlier this week - the oldest digital natives that we have are 12 year olds. And they're the next cohort about to come through to us in Y9 next year.

What worries me is that they've been learning in a way that is integral to their own understanding and ability as well as the fact that once they get to our school they'll be faced with our current reality which will become a complete about face for them.

It's difficult because there are so many factors at play and I want to ensure students have the best possible opportunities, are learning real world skills and more importantly are learning skills that may help them in the future.

Not all students get the same deal either so it's interesting because we need to be more aware of the backgrounds our students have and cater to that as well. I've had Y12 students who didn't know how to copy and paste info or students who hadn't used a computer for years. There's definitely a digital divide and we need to cater and continue being aware that not everyone starts off on an equal footing.

More importantly - to find authentic audiences - the students need to know who an authentic audience may be for a particular project.

I think I started breaking into more of this with my Y11s this year when we wrote letters to certain people who could alter the chances and futures of my students research topics. I still want them to send them but again it comes down to student's confidence and persistence.

Growing up having blogs taught me how an authentic audience who actually read your blog and commented and learnt with you, truly helped to foster a reading and sharing community but also allowed me to be aware of the fact that what I wrote - someone would read and I should always be aware of this important fact.

Anyway - time for class. :)