Remember the clubhouse in the woods you built with your friends. It was your clubhouse. You and your friends thought of it, planned it, gathered materials, constructed it, fought about it, fought in it, plotted in it, pretended to be super-heros or knights in it, and then probably tore it down because it seemed like a good idea and it was yours to tear down. Remember the playhouse that the little girl down the street had. Her father built it for her. It was a beauty; A door with hinges and a door knob, heart-shaped shutters, flower-boxes, shingles, matching curtains and furnishings. She had a birthday party and everyone got to go into it but you couldn’t “mess it up”. Nobody really played there much, it collected spiderwebs. It sat forever – a monument to adult intervention.
As I listened to the ISTE Speaker Series on SL Tuesday night, Knowclue’s message was most profound. She said she is a stickler on students building and making their own environment in SL Teen Grid and now on Reaction Grid where she provides instruction. I sat in the audience and asked “what evidence do you have of student achievement?” My thoughts were focused on what so many educators are thinking about: test scores, numbers, Adequate Yearly Progress, achievement data, standards. Of course these are important quantifiable data points and so is the remarkable build that her students created.
The evidence is that children built a community based on a unit of study. The student Build required the use of communication, collaboration and problem solving (those 21st Century Skills). It required the use of mathematics and integration of an artistic sensibility. The students had to read/research and take notes, write, and compute. Knowclue has a clue and she also has evidence. The student product is the evidence. The students will be tested in the standards at the end of the year and those scores too will be reviewed – together they form the picture of evidence. My hunch is the students who build will demonstrate more learning gains than the students who have it built for them, look to the evidence.