It has been exciting to watch the evolution of WeChat as a tool for communication and community-building at BISS this year. WeChat is a social networking app used by over 650 million people in China, with 1.1 billion active accounts.
Thanks to dedicated Class Parents, who initially set up, moderated and posted content, BISS now has 7 thriving grade level communities. (And more! WeChat is also used extensively by the Athletics Department, the PTA, and many students in informal social & academic groups.)
In the Elementary School, the power of instant translation, just-in-time reminders and media sharing has strengthened our sense of belonging and connection within class communities.
Teachers have enriched the experience, by posting photos and videos throughout the day, creating a real-time window into life at BISS. The separation between home and school is ever diminishing, as parents gain insight into inquiry learning, appreciate joyous moments, see discoveries happen, and understand their child’s day-to-day experiences.
Read on to find out what happened next!
Most recently, we have watched students take control! Children (as young as 6 years of age) have taken charge of the WeChat groups, as their own platform for learning and communication.
Homework has been transformed as they apply skills and understandings in authentic situations, to an appreciative audience.
For example, Grade 2 students are currently posting “How To” video tutorials to consolidate their understanding of procedural texts. As they practice giving clear, sequential instructions with present tense verbs, we are learning about tennis strokes, hair styles, and paper aeroplane construction!
Last week, Grade 3 students each cooked a meal (and shared the process) to practice reading, measuring and sequencing.
Grade 1 students regularly learn during holiday periods, by posting cryptic photos, for their peers to guess their location. In doing so, they are building inferential thinking skills (which are essential for reading comprehension).
What’s next? I don’t know. But I’m excited to find out!
There is always scope for social networking to go awry, but at BISS, we are dedicated to thoughtful technology integration. As we prioritise learning, foster community and strengthen communication, we all go on a journey of growth as digital citizens.
Mistakes are necessary and change is inevitable. But the benefits are often unimagined, exciting and transformative for student learning and our community as a whole.
(Sincere thanks to Dr Brooks and Julie Lindsay, both global leaders in education, who each took time to discuss technology with me this month. Read Julie’s post about WeChat here. Find out how not to use WeChat here!)