Becoming Good Tutorial Designers

We are intensifying the quest to empower our learners by allowing the students to become contributors to their classroom learning community. Our model is Alan November’s six roles he outlines in The Digital Learning Farm. One of these roles is The Tutorial Designer. Alan asks : “Who do students go to when they are having difficulties completing a homework assignment?” Most of them will call a friend to explain to them what to do.

Teaching is the highest form of Understanding

By taking advantage of how students often understanding something better or are more willing to listen when a peer explains something, the idea of becoming tutorial designers comes in. Not only will the student watching/listening to the tutorial benefit, but also the student creating the tutorial will benefit by breaking their own knowledge into smaller pieces and teaching it to someone else. Students don’t seem to be natural tutorial designers.How were we going to approach teaching good tutorial design to 4th graders? I was in luck! Kim Cofino just happened to blog about a lesson she had done at her school, Students as Teachers- Sixth Grade Tutorial Designers. As always she has produced an incredible outline of her thoughts, implementation and pedagogy behind the lesson. I decided to start out with an empty PowerPoint and ask students how they defined a “Designer”.

After leading them into Kim’s inquiry based activity with three papers, I started taking photos of the students doing the activities and placing them in order into the PowerPoint slides. We also typed observations students came up with after completing the activity. As one class period came to an end and the lesson continued the following week, we used the PowerPoint to review what we already had learned about good tutorial design. Students helped me put images taken onto the correct slide and move them in the correct order in which they happened. It did not occur to us until later, that we were also creating a tutorial- a step by step instruction- on HOW to teach Tutorial Design to elementary school students.

Students identified techniques that they had liked from the video examples that we had watched together, such as details images (are worth a thousand words) color coded words make sure instructions are in order We will meet next week again for students to take the next step, get into groups and start designing a tutorial which will focus on explaining “Multiplication” to someone else.