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What is an Inspired Writing and Literature Learning Community?



What is a Learning Community

Each learning community consists of a group of students who share the same class or group of classes, either locally or online. Group dialogue continues throughout the week on a private website to which only they and their parents have access. Beginning as an empty slate, this site is filled in by students' contributions during the year and grows to become a learning resource and a record of their development and efforts.


Here students will also find instructional videos on central concepts, allowing them to stop, rewind, and watch a topic multiple times if necessary. Additionally, they can access Quizlet online flashcards and other learning tools on the class website.  Covering vocabulary and central ideas, these tools also provide optional games and self-tests to aid in mastering material. Online students have the further benefit of being able to re-watch videos of classes.


Over the year, these learning communities become close-knit groups where students share content, analyses, evaluations, and conclusions about the ideas and information they are encountering in their studies. They ask each other questions and raise issues for classmates to consider. While the teacher also participates, providing additional opportunities for teacher/student interaction, one of the primary objectives for the site is student interaction with each other.


For many students, entering into this type of open-ended, idea-oriented dialogue is a new experience and a skill which must be learned.  While some students will be excited by this concept, many, if not most, are initially intimidated.  However, by the end of the year, students find that this "learning community" has become one of their favorite aspects of  Inspired Writing and Literature courses.  Students receive the instruction and encouragement necessary to participate, at first in small steps and then, as they become more comfortable, in larger steps.


Having engaged in dialogue throughout the week on the site, they come to class with questions and insights to share with others. They have completed the thinking necessary to engage in meaningful class discussions.