Collaborative Spaces: One Note in the Middle School Classroom
Collaboration is an essential component of dynamic learning environments. It promotes a sense of community and allows individuals to work together as they generate new ideas. In the middle school classroom, it is especially important to build a community in which students can openly share their insights and work with one another to critically think about ideas and issues they are wrestling with. In my English classroom, students participate in small book clubs year round. As a certified reading specialist and English teacher, I believe that reading literature should be a shared experience and that students should collaborate and explore ideas together as they read, write, speak, and listen to one another. This research paper summarizes the process of developing physical and digital collaborative spaces in a middle school English classroom while using Microsoft OneNote software, which incorporates digital ink and tablet technology. Students completed a round of book clubs in three weeks as they shared a space in the classroom where they could read together, discuss their ideas as they wrestled with complex concepts, such as character motivation, author’s purpose, and the theme of the book they read. In addition, students utilized OneNote’s collaboration space to help them work together as they read their book. The use of digital pen and tablet technology also enabled me as their teacher to give them instant feedback as I evaluated their reading progress all along. As a result, students were able to build innovative, collaborative spaces that enabled them to work together, provide feedback to one another, and have dynamic dialogues about literature.
I am very thankful for all the help and guidance that Matt DiGiulio, director of technology at Whitfield School, has provided me with. Matt has not only taught me how to use software on my tablet, but he has also provided me with meaningful feedback on best ways to use technology to support my classroom instruction. In addition, I would like to thank Mark Payton, former director of technology at Whitfield School, for his ongoing support and for his efforts in helping Whitfield School have one-to-one cutting-edge technology. Their help has made it possible for me to provide my students with rich learning experiences.
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