Classroom = Community of Supportive Learners

Last year I read For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’All Too by Dr. Christopher Emdin. I was captivated by the idea of reality pedagogies, such a simple and yet powerful approach to teaching and learning.

I was particularly inspired by Dr. Emdin’s emphasis on creating classrooms as communities of students supporting each over, ideally reaching a point of collective effervescence. My classes are not there yet, but we will be shortly.

Collective Effervescence

To begin this journey of students supporting each other and relying on one another for their learning I decided to have my students create learning resources for each other using Book Creator. This will hopefully serve as the starting point for us growing to the point where collective effervescence is the norm in our classroom.

Our Year 9 Language and Literature class are currently inquiring into how the structure of one’s point of view can empower purposeful and effective communication. To support students communicate their point of view purposefully and effectively, a part of their learning experience is revising and learning new persuasive language conventions. To create an environment in the classroom where students learn to support each other and comfortably communicate their learning, each student chose a persuasive language convention to focus on.

Students then researched the persuasive language convention they chose and applied this using a local challenge they are passionate about in order to create a page of a class eBook that included the following:

  • a definition of the persuasive language convention in their own words in order for their peers to understand
  • how the persuasive language convention can be used to position their audience to respond in a particular way
  • how the persuasive language convention can be used to enhance communication
  • application of the persuasive language for their peers to use as an example.

Using the students contributions, I then compiled these contributions together and published the eBook. My Year 9 students were then able to download this to their devices and use it as a resource throughout the unit. Students are currently developing formative assessment Editorial pieces and will then engage in further analysis before moving into creating a persuasive communication of their choice employing strategically selected persuasive language conventions. Their primary resource has been and will continue to be the resource that they themselves have created.

Our Year 10 Language and Literature students are immersed in a poetry unit through the global context of Personal and Cultural Expression: poetry empowers the expression of self and deep culture through voice. I took a similar approach with my Year 10 class where each student chose a poetry technique to explore and create an exemplar for their peers.

Students are in the midst of open lessons and free space to create their own original poem with a corresponding visual and/or physical representation of an expression of their self and their own deep culture. Each student has on their device our class eBook and they are using the resources shared with each other to support the creative process of text production. Students have been moving around and seeking clarification on poetry techniques, thanking each other for the resources provided and using examples provided by their peers to apply the technique to their own poem. I have had the pleasure of listening to students discuss ideas and in their own unique ways be creative and express their unique deep culture and self through voice.

This simple approach is a great way to get students creating rather than solely consuming content, in addition to providing an avenue for tech integration. Bring on the new collaborative features of eBook Creator – this creates so many opportunities for our Language and Literature classes. But most importantly, students have begun to grow as a community of learners supporting one another in the learning process. Hopefully the first step to developing a classroom where collective effervescence is the norm.

Featured Image by Sophie Johnson, Darwin NT

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