I had a lot in my mind when I was asked to pull-out some 8th grade ELA students who needed enrichment. Since the grade level had begun their unit on informative texts and these kids mastered the basic text structures and central ideas, I had do come up with a literacy enrichment activity I could finish under 40 minutes. It turned out to be somewhat refreshing for both students and me.
So. I decided to experiment using Padlet and Icarus Session as an assessment tool to explore how much they knew about the nature of informative text.
First, I used Padlet to brainstorm on what kind of informative texts they’ve been reading lately. At first, it was challenging for them to brainstorm through any informative text they’ve been reading because they had assumed that informative text had to do with news articles, data, or documents. They started asking questions among themselves what they thought informational text was and that opened doors for them to link up articles or links from Mashable, Instagram, and other online platforms. The students discussed among themselves on their peers’ interests as well as some patterns and biases on the type of informative text they posted. I did clear up Padlets for multiple sessions but other periods have discussed how most of their sources came from online resources while others talked about how their informative text had a lot to do with “Donald Trump”.
What I learned about using Padlet was that it’s a great assessment tool for teachers to see where students are and gives me a room to tweak the flow of the lesson I plan for that day. I thought it was an interesting platform for both teachers and students. Another observation I made about this type of digital platform is that it allows you to appreciate the various dynamics these students bring to the lesson I created for individual classes.
In order to stretch the students beyond their assumptions, I talked about what constitutes to “information” and what that means to us. I got to share my fascination with gaming and asked questions on whether Minecraft itself is informational and how so. What was interesting was that they were able to see gaming as more than entertainment or as stress-release. Our conversation ranged from gaming as a surviving and co-planning platform for young people all over the world to gaming as a learning opportunity and acquiring surviving skills. One student shared how she finds reading nutritional information off of her morning cereal box is her routine every morning and how that is as important as reading the Constitution for her Social Studies class because it teachers her to find her “core” before she takes her school bus. And we discussed so many other aspects of informational text manifested in our lives such as hobbies, career, and interests.
None of the students were graded for what we discussed or presented during those short sessions. These kids don’t need another task to be completed; they just need something different. Something that would stretch their assumptions and biases.