Spinndle for LiD: Supporting Assessment Through an OnLine Tool

Two weeks ago, CIRCE hosted part one of a two-part webinar series for CIRCE LiD teachers to learn more about Spinndle, and how co-founders Jack and Kris can tailor their assessment as learning platform to meet LiD educator needs.

We began the webinar by asking why teachers love using LiD in their classrooms. Here are a few of their responses:

  • “It is a really powerful tool for helping my kids open up their sense of wonder.” – Ryan, Grade 6 teacher
  • “It ensures that kids are able to explore things in the modality that works best for them.” – Tara, School administrator
  • “I find it a really interesting way to engage families.” – Andrea, Grade 1 teacher

LiD is project-based learning with a clear end goal: to increase one’s understanding of the nature of knowledge. Students are given much freedom in what aspects of their topic they choose to examine, and how they choose to do so.

Although LiD puts the “student” back in student-led learning, any program can be enriched. We (CIRCE) are constantly looking for creative ways to further enhance the LiD program, and we believe Spinndle offers one such avenue. In addition to asking teachers what they love about LiD, we also asked them to share their wishlists. One attendee stated that their older students (grades 6 to 8) are highly motivated by grading. Since marks are not a part of the LiD program, it can be challenging to engage students who are driven by numeric feedback. How can educators steer students away from the idea that everything has to be graded?

Additionally, a teacher shared that in order to drum up enthusiasm amongst their students, they showcase what they’re currently doing with their own LiD topic. Interest can be contagious.

When students see their teacher or a peer excited about what they’re discovering, it can motivate them to approach their own topic with renewed .

Unfortunately, continued enthusiasm from the teacher can be arduous over the long term. As one educator shared:

“I like the passion that I can bring and help my students realize that about their own topics, but I struggle because it takes a lot of energy, and it takes a lot of time… I want to find another way where they can get the feedback they want… and they can feel like they’re part of a community without it always coming from the teacher.”

Fortunately, Spinndle makes it possible to address these concerns during the LiD hour.

Kris and Jack are former B.C. teacher who realized, when doing inquiry-based learning that their students did not have a sufficient array of self-directed learning skills. They had to spend a term teaching those independent skills before getting into student-led projects. Rather than spending weeks of the school year preparing students to engage in deeper learning, Kris and Jack desired to embed self-directed learning skills into the everyday experience of their students. In brief, that’s how Spinndle was born. The platform facilitates personalized learning for self-directed projects.

Students no longer need to ask their teacher “is this good?” at every stage of their learning.

They can be encouraged to get into the habit of asking their peers for feedback, and learning to accurately self-assess.

Of course, Spinndle can be used for any inquiry learning, but it can be particularly useful for LiD teachers to assist students in organizing and connecting their learning experiences. Spinndle also responds to the concerns listed above:

  • Student interest and engagement may increase through researching and presenting their topic in a new medium.
  • Rather than anticipating a grade, students are held accountable by their peers to act on reciprocate feedback, and by their teacher to demonstrate how they’ve implemented the proposed changes. (Spinndle has this awesome feature where teachers can issue action requests – these prompt students to provide proof of how they’ve addressed feedback.) Moreover, it allows young people to engage with each other using technology. This form of communication with peers is prevalent in their everyday lives. It may allow LiD a point of entry because it is relevant to their preferred style of communication.
  • Students can explore each other’s work as it is taking place. Students can find inspiration in each other’s work. There are ongoing opportunities to share and explore.

All of our attendees left the webinar with a free trial of Spinndle for their classrooms. We are excited to hear about the impact the program will have on student learning. Stay tuned to hear more about Spinndle and LiD in action.

We are also interested in the creative ways you tailor LiD for your classroom needs. Leave a comment below to join in the conversation.

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