Today I was tasked with completing a research based lesson with a class of mixed year three and four pupils. The context was Historical. The learning objective of the lesson was for the children to be able to ask questions about the life and works of Aesop, of fable fame.
Almost immediately after I was passed the exceptionally detailed lesson plans by the teacher, I wanted the end product to be a class eBook. This task presented me with a tailor made opportunity to get the children to work in groups, collaboratively. Book Creator was the obvious choice. Undeterred by the 40 minute duration of the lesson I sat at home and quickly uploaded and shared the resources using Showbie. Easy.
Then I began to wonder, was I doing the class and injustice by not preparing them now for their possible research based lives ahead at school. Did these children need to know about plagiarism? Or about copyright or the legalities that go with taking someone’s idea/intellectual property. So I turned to common craft a well-known and excellent source of educational tutorial/videos designed specifically for the classroom. These short animations are well designed and clearly explain all things technological. I often use these as a model for the classroom especially when asking the children to make their own Explain Everything’s or short stop frame animations, they are a valuable template for ideas.
So by now my quick sharing of resources on Showbie had turned into quite a expanded thinking process. I planned to show the children what plagiarism was and why it was important to only use images that were able to be shared. Being shown how to search pictures that have the correct usage rights is an essential part of being a responsible digital citizen. I looked at Creative Commons and saw the different ways in which images and published work was credited and licensed.
In my present role as a digital integrationist pupils digital fluency is paramount. I aim to be the embodiment of good practice for how other teachers should utilise iPads and mobile technology into the classroom. So it felt like the right thing to do to take a little bit of the lesson to explain about these important aspects of undergoing research. The children to their credit could appreciate that an image shared on the web may have once been taken by a single individual and that individual deserved to be credited for their work. As one child said “Mrs Bacon if you put someone else’s name on my work up on the wall I wouldn’t be very happy either!” – quite right.
So what was the outcome of the lesson? The children understood that there was such a thing as plagiarism and that they should only write in words that they understand and that these words could be based on somebody else’s idea. They were able to look at text and pictures as evidence and write their own conclusions from these. However, I’m not sure that a schools’ inspector would agree with me -that it was time well spent. There wasn’t much ‘hard’ evidence written down to show the progress. The dilemma is that the time it takes to discuss properly and to really listen to what the children had to say took time away from getting their ideas down. Thankfully, we all managed to make one page in Book Creator that we will combine into a whole class scrapbook. But the independent work was not as extended as I would’ve liked to have presented back to their ‘real’ teacher. Perhaps what the children learnt was more than could be proved in a page of text with an attached image. But a page with a recorded voice note of opinions and discussions; that’s a different matter.
I’m left with the nagging question, which skill was more important?
Writing an extended piece of text or the lively insightful discussion centered on ideas and who owns them?