Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Letting Go

One year later, and I am still the hugest fan of the social networking options on Follett's Destiny Quest. For elementary students, the authentic nature of their book recommendations continually make me smile and make me proud because they are so into it and excited about writing about books--exactly what we hope for.

However, letting them use the recommending feature means I have to let go of a lot of teacher control. And I mean A LOT. Even the previous version of Destiny allowed for me to approve every single recommendation, and I could go in and edit out all those spelling and grammar mistakes if I so chose. It was kind of a pain, and how is that authentic if I add and delete or correct grammar from a child's work?

But no longer. It's just them out there, typing away about Geronimo Stilton or Leven Thumps or Candy Apple books.

There are some that will say the reviews are too loose, but I feel it allows the students to express what they truly feel about a book. Of course we talk about what is appropriate, and how we are writing for an audience, and how we should say more than the I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!! comment (this is huge in 3rd grade, but even a big part of me thinks that is fabulous because there are some books I've read where this is exactly what I want to say!). It's fascinating to see how there is a natural progression from 3rd to 4th to 5th grade, and how their recommendations contain an added depth as they get older and wiser and more well-read.

I spent most of last week teaching students how to create good, solid book recommendations, and they have so much to say. But it is only when I can let go, when I can provide that gradual release of responsibility, that they can truly interact on Destiny Quest.

Here's to letting go and enjoying the ride. Try it--It's TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Image Attribution: Destiny's Agent


Sharon D said...

Hey Tara,
Our library just added Destiny, and I would really like to teach the EAL kids to write book reviews. Do you have any recommendations/lesson ideas to share? Thanks!! Shaza

IMC Guy said...

We don't have Destiny, but our system does at least allow students to rate a book on a 5 star level. I'll introduce and see how it goes. I think it's pretty cool that students can have a voice in what hey like and don't like and can express that to their classmates.