Monday, March 11, 2013

Teaching curation in the classroom

Cowboy by me
My media students have been using some KQED Lowdown resources lately to try to understand the gun control debate. As my students and I have studied this issue for the past few weeks, a couple of things have occurred to me. My first observation is how complex many issues are today. It can be difficult for students to write a simple thing like a piece of argumentative writing, or participate in a classroom debate, when there's so much information on the topic. Trying to get a handle on an multifaceted issue can be overwhelming for all of us. This leads me to my second observation – researching wicked problems like gun violence in America might be better undertaken in collaborative groups not only in classrooms but also in larger connected learning environments.

Here's how it went in my class.

Currently KQED has seven resources under the gun violence topic. I started off by dividing students into seven groups and had them examine one of the resources. Individual students first wrote a summary of their article's main points. Next they shared their summaries with their group members. In the end the group was responsible for one summary that best represents the ideas of the group and then presented to the rest of the class. Here's an example summary from one of the groups in my class.

To make doing these activities more manageable, I've always appreciated objective educational resources that have been assembled by experts, for example EBSCO Host Connection gun control resources and ProCon's concealed gun fact sheet. These are packaged to make researching more efficient for students and teachers, but I've also begun to realize that the act of searching for articles and discussing the merits of sources is an integral part of learning how to thrive in a knowledge economy. That's why I'm doing more collaborative research projects in my classes now on sites like Diigo, Delicious, and Gooru. One project that gets at what I'm moving toward is this shared Gooru collection that has been added to by Paul Allison's students in New York City and my students in Utah.

I've found that the most effective groups consist of informed individuals. Once we go through the process of collaboration and curation, we're much better able to articulate a stance on complex issues.

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