User generated content has transformed how we consume digital content, easy to use content systems aggregate editorialized content and user-generated content in an effective way (YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). With the advent of the Common Core ELA standards there is an opportunity to make user (teacher/student) generated content a relevant piece of instruction.
Student digital research and media skills
The Common Core Standard (ELA) represents an opportunity to educate our youth to consume and produce in a digital world. The standards go beyond content and define opportunities for skill instruction. The writing strand of the standard specifically addresses the need for “digital research, argument, and presentation”, and the same requirement is widely adopted in several areas of the standard (for kids 6th grade to 12th grade). The figure below identifies the specifics of the standard.
Digital makes it easier to do
While the above standard may look like something new, the fact is that much of this “project” based approach to learning has been a part of most classroom instruction and being led by teachers for a long time. The difference is that the new standards involve the integration of digital technologies that make the “project based learning (PBL)” approach easier to implement and more relevant to career skills.
In sixty seconds the digital Web generates a tremendous amount of content and presents opportunity to drive great value to the requirement of the Common Core standard (defined above). New Web applications that are designed for research, argument, and presentation, make this process relatively painless. Themeefy is an example and there are other applications that could be used depending on what your goals are. A key reason in selecting tools is to make sure they don’t just aggregate Web content but offer an avenue for students to put thought and argument to the aggregation. Some Web applications have class management and teacher tools built-in so it should be easy to implement.
Your lesson plan should be more than enough for great digital project ideas. A novel idea is to provide a loose framework of a project and let your kids surprise you – here is an amazing teacher talking about her stellar students.
Value some key success measurement rubrics like :
- Digital discovery & use of appropriate resources :
- Encourage and reward self-generated original content, i.e. students take pictures or create video for the project
- Presentation of the project
- (Most importantly) Justification of resource use, analysis of research, argument, and contextual thought.
Student (teacher) generated content – a key part of instruction
Sharing student created projects and teacher generated lessons that are dynamic can become a valuable resource for instruction. A class library that grows over the course of the class year with content that is being generated in the classroom while students learn is a powerful way to achieve Common Core success. We often hear comments of how the Web is making us dumber, that would only be if we consume content blindly – when students aggregate Web content, enrich with their thoughts, make arguments, and share, I would argue that we are all a lot smarter.