A couple of posts ago I wrote about Thinking and writing about biology, and featured a NING called ‘Principles of biology: bringing life and living things into focus’ created by Sean Nash. I wanted to show off Sean’s NING because I love the way he teaches biology, incorporating Web 2.0 technologies, critical thinking, creativity, reflection and even poetry. The NING, of course, is perfect for collaborative learning, and brilliant for discussion.
It was a thrill to have Sean comment on my blog, not just as a polite hi, but sharing information about his students and his teaching. It’s worth going back to the post and reading what he says.
What I found most interesting was our little conversation. I had pointed out that Sean’s teaching combined literacy with science. He commented back:
Science and literacy had certainly better go together. We are in a heap of trouble as a species as it is. We can’t afford to continue to create a scientifically-illiterate populace. Where science and literacy are separate, science is but mystery and mythology to even our brightest.
What happened next really made my day. Two students left comments for me here on my blog. These comments blew me away; they revealed a love for their learning experiences in Sean’s classes and NING, and an ability to reflect and analyse that our teachers would kill for.
I wanted to post these comments in full because I think they’re worth reading.
Here is what Tori Scott wrote (the bold type is my emphasis)
This is my classes website! I’ve always loved science, but this year was a whole new experience for me. In our class Mr. Nash gives us multiple ways too look at science. There are so many new things to learn that it’s truly fun to experience it in different ways. I came into this class thinking it was going to be him lecturing and us taking notes. This year was the first year that it’s all been so hands on.
This class really makes us think. Mr. Nash will just give us something, for instances a visual, and ask us to write about it. Like what we think it represents and our thoughts and opinions on it. I really enjoy doing this. It allows us as students to share what were thinking. That’s one of my favorite things about the website. Were able discuss and blog about the things we do in class. We each get to share as individuals, which is pretty amazing because each one of us think differently. This also allows us to learn on a completely different level.
I’d have to say that if there is one thing i’ve learned this year would be that science is not black and white. Thats a big misconception i’ve had. Through the year though i’ve began to learn and realize that there is always a gray area. The site gives us the opportunity to talk about it and understand more.
Rachel Huntsman wrote:
I am a student in the dual-credit biology class that uses the blog you have been discussing. I just wanted to let you know my thoughts on our use of the blog.
I really think it is a beneficial way of learning, and would recommend it to any teacher in order to get their students to actually think about learning.
I will admit I was one of the students who took the class just to get this major required science class out of the way before college. However, this coming from a person who really doesn’t enjoy science at all, I have found that I enjoy this class. I feel like I can analyze what I learn and discuss things with other students rather than simply fill out a work sheet and answer test questions.
I honestly think I will retain things from taking this class, and I can say I have benefited a great deal from it.
I also like the idea that other people, such as yourselves, are actually reading this blog and looking at what we are learning and how we are learning. It makes me think about what I will post because I know someone from the other side of the world might read it.
Now, you might have noticed that I’ve recently heard Will Richardson talking about network literacy, passion-based learning, and an authentic readership. Well here it is – an inspiring example of the best kind of learning. It makes a difference when it’s real writing to real people, not just writing what you think your teacher wants and what will get a good mark. As Rachel says, analysing, discussing, learning collectively – not filling out worksheets.
I wish more educators, parents and students could see how good this kind of learning is. Thankyou Tori and Rachel for sharing and inspiring us.