This morning, I had a strange file request from Google Drive. A former student of mine from seventh grade (and who is now a high school junior), requested access to an old file. At first, I thought it was a copy of old student work that I still “owned” and needed to return, but I was wrong.
In the last four years since we have been a GAFE school, I’ve shared many files with my students. Some are assignment-specific, but others are flexible and could be used or referenced over and over again. I’ve even told students to make sure they keep a copy for future reference. In the old paper-days, maybe one or two students would nod and file the paper away, neatly three-hole punching the side and clipping it into a binder. Many would toss wadded copies directly into the recycling bin.
The particular document requested was among ideas that I call “pro-tips” for improving writing. The document gives advice on how to “Show, Don’t Tell” in revision with four different suggestions.
It turns out, over 135 students at the high school–many of whom I never taught directly in class–are accessing, sharing, and making good use of that old tip-sheet. It’s teaching gone “viral.”
This morning, I’m reflecting on the long-reach teachers have through email and digital documents and I hope more students will keep me on “speed-file” as a learning resource, long after they’re moving on to other grades. It’s a powerful way to be a larger part of their educational community and learning network. I can only imagine the power for students to keep in touch with former teachers as they build their own personal learning networks.