In the spirit of Thanksgiving I have decided to devote this blog to giving thanks to educators who have taken risks, dipped their toes in a new pool of technology possibilities, and afforded students opportunities to create and learn in new ways. I know I’m a technology integration specialist, so of course I am enamored with technology and all that entails. However I think, everyone needs to realize the amazing things that come as a result of new and improved learning technologies. The things our students can learn, do, and explore that they couldn’t do before are mind blowing. If I could go back in time and spice up my academic life with some teachable technology moments, I may have fallen head over heels in love with learning long before I did. It amazes me how empowering students to produce lights a spark brighter than any A on a test paper or standardized test ever has.
So to end my rambling intro and delve into the meat and potatoes of this blog, I will begin with my top five technology enhanced learning moments from the first marking period of the school year. Please share your top technology moments in the comments below, and maybe we can spark a new idea or two to be thankful for in our own classrooms.
- Students in an 8th grade history class studied the Industrial Revolution. To extend their learning the teacher empowered his students to design their own innovations, create scripts, and produce promotional advertisements to sell their innovations to their peers. The engagement levels of these students was off the charts, not a behavioral concern to be had, and the products of this project were ahhh-mazing! Here is just one example.
- Students in a 7th grade math class completed a unit in math. The teacher empowered her students to teach one another concepts learned during that unit as a form of review and mastery of the unit standards. Students created flipped videos for their classmates to view prior to the unit test. I have always believed that if you have the ability to teach a concept, it sticks with you for life. These videos were uploaded to her class Youtube channel and available for the entire class to enjoy and revisit any time.
- A sixth grade teacher who wanted students to share the knowledge they harvested from their self-selected biographies met with me to discuss alternative book projects that could allow the students to utilize technology. We explored Fakebook projects. The students loved completing them and examining one another’s projects.
- An 8th grade ELA teacher developed a Google Maps tour to accompany the novel his students were reading. This tour not only mapped out the setting of the novel for the learners, but incorporated video, images, and historical information to allow his students an integrated experience threading both history and ELA together in an independent center.
- A 7th grade teacher who was beginning her narrative unit wanted to allow students to collaborate and create narrative stories for young learners. We co-planned and came up with a dice rolling activity that allows the group to acquire their characters, setting, and problem. Then collaboratively they will write their story using Little Bird Tales and then share their stories with an elementary classroom for the students in the lower grade to map out the literary elements.
There are too many people, places, tools, and ideas for which I am thankful for this fall. However, I am most thankful for educators who are open to trying new things and willing to move outside their comfort zones to enable their students to become creators and reach the higher levels of the SAMR model.