The second lesson using diigo gave me an opportunity to consolidate what had worked well the first time I’d used it with a class and also to try and provide more of a framework to make sure students used the features on diigo to give them a challenging learning experience.
Students were to look at three different websites, each containing a different poem by W.H. Auden. On each site they would be required to highlight and explain a different piece of information from the poem. They would then be required to synthesise the three seperate explanations they had given about the poems into a conclusion on the overall message contained in Auden’s poetry, which they would post on the forum on our diigo group’s homepage.
Students had one lesson’s prior experience of using diigo and got on with the initial part of the lesson quickly. I had to remind them to select the ‘share with mr.w’s lit group’ option when writing their post it-notes, otherwise they would have stayed private on the students’ diigo accounts, but this was the only time I had to verbally remind students of something to do with the ‘using diigo’ area.
The quality of annotations
One thing that’s been fantastically exciting about watching my students interact with diigo is the ease at which they engage with writing about the poems I have asked them to look at. The class I teach is not particularly unusual and its certainly not particularly unusual (as other English teachers may well sympathise with), to ask people to have a discussion about a poem they’ve just read, only to be greeted by hesitant silence, until the teacher encourages and starts teasing things out. Why? I guess poetry can be an intensely personal thing, and I think sometimes our kids find it hard to open up about it.
Here are just a few examples of some of the feedback they left:
Posting in the forum
Students then assembled their various annotations and were required to look at them together. They would find me forum post that (hopefully) gave them clear instructions on what they needed to do to synthesise the informations together into a conclusion about Auden’s poetry. Having the forum linked to the main site worked well because students have a ‘base’ that they can keep coming back to (and easily get hold of the annotations they’ve got, without having to go back onto the website). If there’s anything I’d like to see in the future, its an extension of the group home pages, maybe even a wiki-type level of editing possible to the homepage itself – maybe the creation of different students pages, based on the research they’ve done?
Time was the only slight problem here – students did work at different rates, one finishing ten minutes early (but I was able to immediately review his post and suggest other areas of discussion) and a few only just finishing. I’d attribute some of this to getting used to the technology, but I will also monitor this more closely in future lessons and see if there is any kind of pattern to it.
Key points to take forward:
- Would be nice to begin to use the posts that have been generated to encourage discussion between students – currently they are sharing bookmarks, but not necessarily the feedback and thoughts they are giving on them.
- Will need to examine more closely how students are finding the timings I am giving on tasks.
- Annotations are encouraging the students to speak their mind more about the poetry – a fantastic plus.