In PYP 7 the last Unit Of Inquiry for the school year is Communicating Through Technology. What a great unit! (no bias here) Together with the year group teachers we decided to let the communicate openly with only a slight bit of focusing by us. I came into the classes and gave them an introduction to Blogs. We looked at some inspiring blogs created by other kids about the same age as them and then gave them the task of creating a group blog about their interests. Not a class blog with pictures of the work they had done and upcoming parent meeting times, but a class blog that communicates who they are. We gathered ideas about broader interests that they might share so that the kids could group themselves together, however they also all have more than one interest and we allowed them to be in more than one group. Then, we let them go at it.
Within a couple of days each of the class blogs had upwards of thirty posts. The kids were thoroughly engaged (and still are) as it gave them a platform for them to express their authentic voice. We could have gone through and made each student hand in a rough draft, edits, and a final perfected version before publishing, but that wasn't the objective of our unit, and it probably would have killed most if not all motivation. I had one student who went home over the weekend and wrote five posts tracking the FIFA scandal. The posts were so well written that I assumed he had just copied them from another source, but after checking I found it to be his own work. When I talked to his teacher about the writing he had done she told me that he never does his homework, when he is asked to do writing in school he gives little effort even though we all know that he a bright student. He has found his authentic voice.
There were students who, yes, completely copied information they found on another website, put into the blog and called it theirs. I was hoping that these things would come up because it provided the opportunity to teach in a situation that is real. I came into the class and together we looked at how we could rewrite the post so that it was the students own work. There were many students who after seeing the post that I pointed out that had copied, went back into their own posts and changed them to be their own words. They were asking great questions like "what if I write someones birthdate or where they were born that I found on another webpage, is that plagiarism?" "How do I write it if it was exactly what someone said?" They are not being told what plagiarism or intellectual property is, they are inquiring about it and finding out for themselves.