November 2020 | חשׁון תשפ”א
What is this update — and what will you find in here?
As this school year has started, Pedagogy of Partnership work is flourishing in schools around the US — even though it undoubtedly looks a little different. Teachers are working hard to create joyful relational learning, whatever the setting. We send this PoP Update to share a glimpse of what’s happening, some ideas for PoP in your school, and some tools to inspire you to keep going! We hope you will share stories and successes with us to highlight in future updates.
PoP Continues to Grow
The Pedagogy of Partnership Midwest Fellowship launched this summer with teachers from eight schools (six day schools and two synagogue schools) in the Chicago and Detroit regions — some teaching in person, some remote, and some hybrid. They joined teachers from across the country using PoP in their classrooms. This fall, PoP teachers have started to build relationships with their students, and among the students and their texts, by teaching them about the “triangle” — the heart of the relational work of PoP. Whether students are sitting several feet from each other or connecting online, they are reflecting together on their strengths and growth areas as partners, learning to articulate their thinking and to listen deeply, and coming to understand what it means to give the text a voice.
One middle-school Jewish studies teacher commented that before learning about PoP, she had never really conceived of the text as a partner. This was a meaningful revelation to her that already caused her to teach differently, as it has given her some new language to use with students. For example, she was working on a pasuk (a Biblical verse) with her students in which the text used many synonyms to describe the same thing. Instead of glossing over these details and focusing on the main idea, as she might have done in the past, she realized that she should articulate, “When we think of the text as a partner, it causes us to pause and ask: What is the text trying to say with all of these different words?” In other words, the text has a voice and the particularity of that voice—in this case, using many synonyms—is trying to tell us something that we can listen to closely.
At the core of PoP lies the belief, or “stance,” that this shared listening and giving voice brings important learning and insight unique to these partners. Rich learning lies ahead for the students and teachers beginning this work.
Resource to Deepen Listening and Articulating
This fall, PoP teachers are teaching students to “listen” and “articulate” with peers, and are building students’ awareness of their growth by reflecting on their work together. Click here for a resource you can share with colleagues for using listening & articulating speech prompts and reflection prompts.
Havruta Six Feet Apart
Building relationships in person with six feet between partners has challenged teachers and students to find new ways to work together. Click here for a resource offering guidance on partnering from six feet away.
Last spring, when teachers and students suddenly found themselves learning online, PoP teachers turned to tools such as breakout rooms and collaborative documents to continue building the relationships they had nurtured all year: with their students, among their students, and between their students and texts. This year, while some PoP teachers have started the year in-person, no one is teaching in a familiar setting, and many are either hybrid or fully remote. As the relational work becomes only more important, new tools offer the opportunity to challenge new constraints.
Beyond Google Docs, teachers can find some remarkable tools to support online partnership learning. Kami allows collaborative annotation of texts in a number of ways; partners can annotate together and easily share with the teacher. Perusall takes a different approach, more appropriate for older students, creating a “social e-reading” community around shared annotations and conversation about the text. Students can tag each other and even upload GIFs. Voicethread enables interactive audio conversation about text; it also allows teachers and students to add audio comments to videos. Users can “doodle” on the images as they record their audio commentary, creating something like an interactive screencast. And then there are of course all of the tools teachers and students harness to create community online with text, images, and video, such as Jamboard, Flipgrid, and Padlet.
A few points to keep in mind as you grow your use of technology:
- Start small and local: Choose one tool and get comfortable with it. It’s better for you and for your students. See if the tool will work easily with whatever learning management system you are already using, such as Google Classroom, Schoology, or Seesaw (more a digital portfolio than an LMS) so that students can keep coming to one place to launch their work.
- Set norms for your students: Students won’t automatically translate the norms of the classroom into online use; be explicit about what’s appropriate.
- Learn from colleagues: Try something that’s working well for someone else.
- Stay focused on the learning goal: If a new set of fancy paints showed up in your classroom, you wouldn’t suddenly become an art teacher. Technology is a tool to help you accomplish your goals.
- Perhaps most importantly, stay relational. How does this tool allow students to build connections with each other and the text? Can it be used synchronously? Asynchronously? Are there options for audio or video comments?
Our students crave the chance to engage with each other. Until their world returns to the close physical communities they - and we - miss so much, these tools can allow some meaning-making through connection and relationship.
Be in touch if you want to share a glimpse of PoP in action in your classroom or school in future updates!
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