Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Are Students Communicating?

There is always a great value of strong practices with the students by always unpacking the skills. The students have co-constructed criteria of many skills from collaboration, self-regulation, responsibility, organization, initiative to independent work.  The achievement chart from the Growing Success Document  is to be used by all Ontario teachers as a framework within which to assess and evaluate student achievement of the expectations in the particular subject or discipline.

The Grade 5 and 6 students have been unpacking skills The 6 C's of NPDL by Micheal Fullan. Thanks to Karen McEvoy who is the consultant leading New Pedagogies For Deep Learning and  many school teams have been introduced to the process.

I have recently built and continue to build with my students the awareness of , what is communication? How can a students communicate effectively in a variety of styles, modes and tools could be outlined for different audiences and purposes?

 Through many opportunities students explored, recognized  and reflected about the dimensions of learning progressions on Communication skills from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. During learning tasks, as a facilitator I have to be careful not to over scaffold the thinking.  I have to give students room for ownership for processing and responding. The communication skills are in real time through co-constructive ideas in which students continually in a conversation are: examining, inferring, predicting, analyzing patterns and relationships, solving problems, allowing students to own their ideas. The partnership in conversations become interesting and valuing each others ideas. The key is to reflect on the progressions throughout the learning tasks and giving students a chance to value their learning through the skills. Below are some examples of learning tasks that guided their progressions. 

The studentsè began with  powerful conversations by unpacking the science concepts of Grades 5 and 6 curriculum on electricity and matter by using MindMup Google App.

The Grade 5 and 6 students consolidated about the team conversations. The students identified that during their conversations they were analyzing the information by using mind mapping as the tool and producing communication of connected ideas from the team members. They also identified that communication is a design of many modes from oral, visual to written.  The majority of the self reflections were at emerging as students were starting to establish and follow communication protocols of working together. As students progressed through reflections on communication the following designs were identified: 

  • Making sense of the communication, elaborating, clarifying, questioning, building on, challenging aprtnerès ideas, roles for groups member for an effective communication 
  • Producing many modes through many tools of communicating,
  • Communicating to evidence that connects to audiences and concepts (Multidisciplinary), staying relevant
  • Monitoring, managing reflecting by improving the challenges (behaviors, attitudes)

The students began reflecting by using Google forms. They were given time in class to reflect on the communication skills and continue reviewing the developments of the progression to learn the process and to improve communication. I tried to videotape students during the process and reflect on how to improve. I have combined several videos below of the process through many learning activities from exploring the Arctic Giant map in relation to Science and Social Studies and everyday learning experiences and opportunities at school. 

The following videos describe the tasks:

Looking at students self -reflections summaries off the forms this is what students said:

  • Listening more and asking more questions
  • Communication better with my peers and sharing more in class
  • listening and giving chance for others to speak. 
  • By sharing more of my evidence 
  • Making connections when communicating for understanding.
  • Express my learning in many choices
  • To always think about the audience
  • Respect the others by having roles, note taking, questioning, valuing each others' thinking, interpreting 
  • Building vocabulary 
  • Improving my French
  • I changed to improve by speaking more during class and getting included/participating with activities
  • They've made an impact on my learning in french,because I have gotten better at my Grammar
  • I have improved on listening more and asking questions that I need to. It has helped me share ideas or questions.

  • I improved my oral french by focusing on the dimensions of communication, I engaged in conversations and practiced it. I also improved my writing by focusing on the dimensions of communication, by writing on task of the subject and by listening and learning to improve. And finally, I improved my listening by focusing on the dimensions of communication, by looking at the person who is talking and asking questions to clarify the question.
    The communication competencies have made an impact on my learning. For example, it has improved my oral french. Secondly, it has improved my writing. And lastly, it has improved my listening.
  • I have changed by being more interactive with my group members while discussions and by talking and putting my ideas out there. I am comfortable because my group members agree with my ideas and because  I am usually familiar with the topic.
  • The communication competencies have made an impact on my learning because, I will have background knowledge before conquering a individual/independent project. It also made me understand more french in a way, and it gives me the initiative to do something by myself.

  • It has helped me realize what I do in class and why I do well in school, and continue to do well. It is because I have been being more respectful, and helping. You have been guiding most of this way. You have showed my many cool things that I probably would not have known about without you. 
  • I have reflected on what in my group works and what does not,to improve my communication with my team, audience and more.For example with my group we all,including me choose the roles which would match each of our particular communication skills we are good at.If at the start we just choose random roles we liked,but as we got to know each other we changed the roles accordingly to improve.
  • It has helped me improve my communication as a team player,explain or give a message and more.They have helped the receiver of my message to understand and have connection with the message I have gave to "stick" in there mind.

The students will continue reflecting and building on communication progressions. I will continue to reflect on How am I engaging and motivating students to foster communication skills?


  1. What a great activity! I'm always amazed at what the students come up with when they are engaged in good self-reflection practices. I love the response "to always think about the audience!" In Making Thinking Visible, the authors encourage teachers to always be asking "what makes you say that?" - not only do students become aware of their thinking process, but that element of communication also plays out. The more often they explain themselves, the more comfortable they'll become with the process. Looking forward to seeing how your students continue to build on this activity!

    1. Thanks Heather for taking the time to post a comment. For sure the focus on communication skills has encouraged students' confidence in becoming more inclusive thinkers and focused partners in the learning community.

  2. Wow, Rola. This post is full of some great activities and ideas! First, I love how you get students to co-construct criteria. I would think it leads to greater ownership. And it is great how the students unpack the curriculum here, using a Mindmap to deconstruct the topic's ideas. Then adding the reflection piece, all while using technology. This is the full package and I love it!

    1. Thanks Sean for leaving a comment. Reflections are very important and the students complete reflections on a daily basis. I find when students' are reflecting, it improves their ownership of learning especially in progressing with their skills. We always take the time at identifying what to keep and how to improve.