The motivation RSA by Dan Pink was just what I needed this week. I am working with Teach for America prospects this summer and we had run up against a few hard to reach students. We watched the RSA in our faculty meeting and I asked my staff to identify the students’ motivation for attending a summer school program in an attempt to increase their engagement. This lead to a great conversation on Phillip C. Schlechty’s book Students: The Next Level of Working on the Work (2011). Schlechty identifies 10 qualities for creating engaging work: product focus, content and substance, organization and knowledge, clear and compelling standards, protection from adverse consequences, affiliation, affirmation, novelty and variety, choice, and authenticity. Upon reflection, Schlechty’s list of 10 can be seen as the skills and strategies necessary for online collaborative inquiry.
This idea is supported by the research; the Artz (2012) and Castek, Zawilinski, McVerry, O’Byrne, & Leu (2011) articles use many of these same descriptors to elucidate the power of online collaborative inquiry. Artz identifies blogs and a medium to empower students through an authentic, even global audience. Additionally, the article references comments that offer affirmation and the use of multimodals to add novelty and choice. Castek, et al links choice and student engagement specifically in a population of students who struggling with traditional forms of reading comprehension. I also identify their reference to re-formulating searches to protection from adverse consequences as students can simply try again (Aaliyah reference).
In my classroom, students will need to be taught how to use the internet for inquiry. Discussion of search engines, boolean operators and source evaluation is crucial to their success. Just as kindergartens are taught how to use a pencil, I must start at the beginning with my students. Regular formative assessments of their success in online collaborative inquiry will guide my scaffolding of the material to include looking for bias in sources and incorporation of creativity. In summary, will rely on the “Try, Try Again” method to get it just right for my students.