Listen to the latest episode (5) of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts podcast as I and others speak about how young introverts might thrive on social media.
Susan Cain‘s Quiet: The Power of Introverts hit this teacher and parent like a tonne of bricks. Since I’m not in the mood to write a book review, I thought I’d publish a quick post of links for @shareski of my previous posts influenced by/connect to her ideas, as well as essential ‘cliff notes’ on the book many of you have already seen floating around the interwebz.
The TED Talk and RSA Animate respectively:
Reading and commenting on Aviva Dunsiger’s post on classroom desk arrangement reminded me of a related but different topic I’ve been wrestling with lately. I’ve been asking myself questions about what it means to do group work.
I’m not certain which lady or gentleman first automatically equated group work with collaboration, but I need to have a word with her/him. When it comes to project work, l’m a proponent of my students taking a larger role in deciding whether working with a partner to create, produce, and/or present is really in the interests of everyone’s progress and learning. Some cite the infamous ‘real world’, in which we are supposedly inundated with demands to work with random people (in many cases, ones we can’t stand), as the pedagogical impetus behind group assignments, but that reasoning just feels lukewarm to me. It’s a strangely defeatist vista which I don’t see reflective of reality, and essentially lays our own adult baggage onto kids. Just who are these masses of people creating great works with people they have little to no working chemistry with? And what kind of bias are we promoting for our extroverted learners over our introverted ones in this equation?
For the next group project you intend on assigning to your class, have you considering having some students work on their own? Shouldn’t our learners be comfortable with the idea that we can differentiate in this area? Why can’t the environment, culture, process, and assessment be collaborative, but products be individual?
On the other hand, perhaps there’s something to be said for the serendipity of picking names out of a bag, forcing learners out of their comfort zone? Perhaps it’s a comfortable idea for some but not others? Maybe it disturbs the regular social dynamics for the better?
How do you do group work with your learners?
I invite my middle schoolers to bring their headphones to class. It’s not just because the year is 2012, or because stringy white ear buds are as ubiquitous as skinny jeans that sag beneath boxers. I want them to use their music and headphones for at least a few reasons…
It’s a beautiful way for students to attain instant solitude when it is needed in a class of near-thirty. Whether it’s listening to your favourite playlist, an audiobook, or a podcast exploring your passion, there’s a place for being in one’s own head in the sometimes-melee that is a middle school classroom.
Learning partners can find paired solitude when doing invaluable partnered work and thinking. It’s a hygiene-obsessed person’s nightmare, but it often aids the best kind of group work – that which occurs between two, not more, people.
I have so many metacognitive students. When left to their own devices (so to speak), many of them contend that music is a must for studying and/or learning. I don’t really see why that shouldn’t be leveraged in my classroom, simply because the proverbial buck ultimately stops with me.
Do you permit students to use their iPods and headphones in your classroom? What are your reasons for doing/not doing so?
If there’s one myth which I am perturbed by, it is the one that goes something like this.
Well, you know, getting technology in there is going to be great for those disengaged, behavioural boys…
There are so many things wrong with this stereotype of our metaphorical wild animals suddenly being tamed at the sight of a touchscreen, but I’m going to focus my attention on one in particular.
In my experience using social media and web 2.0 (SMW2.0) tools with students since basically their inception, I would say that if it favours or holds a bias towards any one identifiable student demographic at all, it would be our introverts.
Before writing this post, I had a glance back at what you might call my own data. In the past two years, I have introduced and guided nearly 200 adolescent students in the use of Google Apps for Education, Voicethread, Animoto, Bitstrips, Prezi, Today’s Meet, and other well known SMW2.0 tools. All of them have had the ability to not only complete assignments and projects mandated by myself as their teacher, but also to take initiative and create, post, respond at their leisure 24/7.
I went through my list of 184 and started by tagging each based on the results of a survey I had them complete from Susan Cain’s website:
Ambivert (difficult to identify as only one)
I then compared this information with another where I assessed their engagement with SMW2.0:
1 – Exhibiting little engagement, rarely posting even when teacher required them to do so.
2 – Exhibiting some engagement, usually when the teacher outlined a specific task to accomplish.
3 – Exhibiting significant engagement, posting frequently.
4 – Exhibiting a high level of engagement, posting most frequently, to the point where we learn about skills, ideas, and aspects of their personality that are rarely shown outwardly in class.
Here are the results of my mom ‘n’ pop research:
What do you think this says about social media and introverts?
I really dislike the stereotype that a teacher needs to be an extroverted, demonstrative personality. I’m not saying it isn’t stupendous for colourful personalities to be teaching our kids. I simply find it unfortunate that this perception of the profession prevents amazing teachers from entering or staying in it. Introverts are often very reflective and less interested than extroverts at dominating talk. In other words, they don’t need to be the centre of attention. Isn’t that one thing we need more of?