As an educator who is always looking for ways to help students develop the necessary skills to become self-directed learners, I fully agree with organizational studies researcher, John Seely Brown, that true learning becomes inevitable once the student develops a passion for learning.
Often times, at the high school level, teachers try to find ways to motivate and engage students. The problem with many of those attempts at motivation however, is that they are external, like grades and warnings about what colleges want to see, and they do not truly allow the student to become interested in learning. Consequently, they do not last and often, if not always, the student’s interest and engagement fizzles out again.
So how does a teacher help students to develop an intrinsic motivation for learning? As J. Gregory McVerry, Lisa Zawilinski and W. Ian O’Byrne (2009) discuss in “Navigating the Cs of Change,” when students have the tools to truly direct their own lear ning, they will thrive. At the core of this inquiry-based learning through internet reciprocal teaching are 5Cs: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical thinking, and Comprehension.
I was most interested in the phases of the project outlined in the article and I believe that it can translate to successful projects and learning in other contexts. Initially, teachers equip students with the basic skills that they will need to be successful. This may include the teacher demonstrating appropriate ways to search for information.
After this equipment phase, students begin to collaborate to locate information. This is where they learn how to be contributors and community members because everyone in the classroom is responsible for sharing strategies that are useful. They also work together to examine potential topics and learn about information gathering and evaluation of information. During the final phase of the project, true and dynamic learning takes place because students have the skills necessary and the support of their learning community. They engage in critical thinking about their process and about the information they find and extend their comprehension as they dive deeper into the topic and make decisions about ways to creatively present their findings to their audience.
In some regard, projects have been summative assessments where students demonstrate knowledge of only the content of the unit. When thinking about project-based inquiries that are build on the 5 Cs, the project becomes an integral part of the learning experience. Therefore, students gain much more than an opportunity to demonstrate what they know about a text or topic–they learn how to collaborate, question, communicate and think in various ways and those are the skills that translate into every other facet of who they are as learners. As I think about redesigning some projects for my own students, I will consider the specific skills that I may need to teach, time frames, ways to assess throughout and offer feedback on process as well as product because with experiences that are built around inquiry, the structure needs to support the fluidity of learning.
The link below provides additional information about Internet Reciprocal Teaching and considerations for creating/implementing lessons: