• Types of products they can create
• Strategies for working together with other learners in the classroom
• Media and resources available for this lesson
Step Four: Facilitate Driving and Supporting Questions
The teacher asks learners to come up with even more questions.
They decide on:
• Is there a right or wrong way to make the world more beautiful?
• Does making something more beautiful make it better?
• Can you make a person more beautiful?
• Does being beautiful make a person better?
The class then prioritizes the questions and eventually chooses
one as their driving question: Does making something more beautiful
make it better?
Learners then work in pairs to develop supporting questions. The
teacher pairs Jared with Susan because he has difficulty focusing on
the text and trouble organizing notes, and Susan’s strengths include
being able to stay on a topic and to prioritize and organize elements in
a story. Susan guides their brainstorming as Jared types in a Google
Doc, which is part of the Class Learning Toolkit available to all learners.
Susan and Jared prioritize the questions and choose What can
we do to make the world more beautiful? as the driving question for
their project. They also come up with these supporting questions:
• What are some places that need to be cleaned up?
• Why do people throw trash out of their car windows?
• Why is the school throwing away paper and plastic instead of
Jared and Susan go to the Discussion and Thinking Zone to think
about trash and recyclables. Based on their driving question, they
decide on a learning goal of designing a school recycling center.
Step Five: Choose Tools, Resources, and Strategies for
Learning and Teaching
In a PLE, each learner has access to a Personal Learning Backpack that
includes a device and a set of tools he or she can use to support any
task, assignment, or project. Learners compile their own backpacks,
with their teacher’s help, based on how they learn best as well as the
resources and tools available to them. Once the learner understands
how to choose and use the appropriate tools for any task, independent
access and self-direction become the foundation of their PLE.
A Personal Learning Backpack can also include websites and a
mobile device with a customized set of apps to support the learner for:
• Reading: Good Reader, Voice Dream, SpeakSelection
• Brainstorming: Popplet, SimpleMind, IdeaSketch, Inspiration
• Writing: Storykit, Dragon Dictation, Book Creator
• Collaborating: Skype, Screenchomp, GoDocs
• Organizing: DropBox, iHomework, Toodledoo
• Note-taking: Notability, Audio Note, Evernote
• Researching: Dragon Go, Qwiki, WolframAlpha
• Presenting: Prezi, iMovie, Keynote, Educreations
Because Jared has a problem with focusing on text and writing
and speaking descriptively, Susan found SpeakSelection in the
accessibility section of the iPad to help Jared read through the
articles about recycling. He then saves his notes to Notability from
his searches on SweetSearch. Jared then reviews his notes in the
Repeat Level. With Susan’s help, he organizes their thoughts using
IdeaSketch. Finally, the pair plans and designs a recycling center
for their school using SketchUp in the Creation Zone.
Step Six: Use Assessment as Learning
By this point, the teacher transitions his or her role to a facilitator who
guides learners to become more self-directed so they can set their
own goals, monitor their own progress, and reflect on their learning.
Assessment as learning is a process of developing and supporting metacognition for learners. When learners are actively engaged
and critical assessors of their learning, they make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and use it for new learning.
This is the regulatory process in metacognition. It occurs when
learners monitor their own learning and use the feedback from
this monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations, and even major
changes in what they understand. It requires that teachers help
learners develop, practice, and become comfortable with reflection
and with a critical analysis of their own learning.
As they design the recycling center, Susan and Jared reflect in
their blog on KidsBlog and invite feedback from others. Jared enjoys using technology, so he captures images of trash around the
school and recycling centers online and uses DropBox to upload
them to the blog. As he collects these as evidence to justify building a recycling center, he writes a reflection on the process. He and
Susan compile all the evidence and reflections in a proposal for the
recycling center that they present to their class using Prezi.
Susan and Jared became partners in learning with their teacher,
which means they were more involved in lesson design and choosing
the appropriate tools to support their learning. And as a result, they
became more engaged in the lesson and more motivated to learn.
Barbara Bray is co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC, and founder/owner of My eCoach ( my-ecoach.com). She writes a professional development column for Computer Using Educators (CUE) and has more than 25 years of expe- rience making learning personal and building communities of practice.