Hard to believe that a year ago I was pouring over TLLP application forms with my project Co-Lead, Aretta, and here I am today with a grade 3 class resourced to the hilt with tech, all in the name of action research. Exciting! Wonderland-like, really. I now teach in a bubble of opportunity. Each student has an iPad that they’ll have daily access to for the whole year. It takes an ordinary wifi signal and transforms it into a customizable portal (or porthole) to the outside world. Oh, the possibilities! Overwhelming really. Let the documenting begin!
Initial conversations (in a nutshell) during first week of school. Me: “yup, it’s true”. Students: “Squeeeeee!”
-Students appreciating the specialness of the opportunity to access such a powerful tool every day.
– Students are collaborating. Screens don’t isolate – poor use of screens isolates. My students are very much intertwined when creating. Lots of conversation happening.
-Students are becoming leaders, or ‘tech coaches’ and are finding value and pride in their tech know-how.
-Students are creating really cool media pieces rather effortlessly and are excited to create things that look like REAL WORLD communications.
-Students are respecting our agreed-upon rules of engagement (a tool should not be a distraction, “hands off screens in two…”, ).
Yes, it’s early in the year, but my personal experience with classroom devices from previous years has been quite positive. Very few kids are willing to risk the ability to use tech as a tool during class time by abusing its usage during free times. Trust me!
When I think of the focus of our TLLP work, – app choice and its link with student voice, especially in the math space, as students become reflective learners – I am looking back at finding what would have been my spark for starting this little journey in the first place. I keep thinking back to Jonathon So’s blog challenge about naming 5 defining moments in a teaching career that have consciously or unconsciously influenced how that teacher creates a learning environment today.
So Jonathan, here’s the five most defining moments that have changed my teaching for the better.
- Having children. Yes, on many lists, but it really put in to perspective the reality that I was responsible for providing meaningful experiences for other peoples’ kids. Students belong to other human beings who have very high expectations. I’m now one of those humans (and yes, my expectations are high). I always look at my lessons with a more critical eye now. Real, authentic, and relatable are words that float in my head when planning ideas. Not sure that mattered to me as much before.
- Being provided with a classroom iPad. At first the reaction was “what do I do with ONE of these? I have 28 students!”. Then you realize the pull that technology has on this young generation. It’s a way to talk. It’s a way to learn. It’s their every day! I knew I needed to capitalize on the portability of technology and find ways to incorporate it into regular practice.
- Joining twitter. I’m fairly new to the Twitter world. The last 1.5 years have been transformational for me. This transfers directly to benefiting my students. The idea exchange can be so motivating – a call to arms at times! Looking beyond the silo of my school has really changed how I see myself in this role. My perspective is much broader and forward-looking.
- Presenting at workshops and conferences. Again, new. The opportunity to connect personally with others who you do not ordinarily cross paths with (and yet do pretty much the exact same job as you) is what it’s all about. Learning. Sharing. Taking that initial risk and submitting a workshop proposal was terrifying. The electric rush after the session was finished was unforgettable. Now I get so much joy from sharing small pieces of my classroom experience when the odd teacher here or there is inspired to try something new.
- Taking my students outside. A lot more! Last year I decided I wanted to put my money where my mouth was (on the community-based learning front) and take my students with their iPads on weekly walking trips around the community to uncover curriculum in the streets and buildings that make up their town. Wow! With that came a great sense of belonging and a celebration of the young citizen voice. We met so many members of our community that invited us into their spaces to share their stories. Seniors, city staff, athletic organizations and social clubs, businesses and community services. I couldn’t imagine teaching without these pieces this year. Authenticity. Real world. Big time.
Whew! Jonathan. Task complete. Thanks for the brainworm. So great to reflect like this once and while.
I created a new classroom mantra last year and I think I’ll stick with it:
CREATE – EXPLORE – DIGITIZE – REFLECT & CONNECT.
Some exciting new directions I hope to explore this year include a daily mindfulness selfie project, walking field trips, blogging, a library-redesign entreprenuerial PBL, links with local library maker spaces, high school shop and engineering student connections, single point rubric-scaffolded self assessment, lots of choice in product and communication options, participating in #OnedSsChat student twitter chats (check it out!), vlogging, podcasting, adding community content to https://akgtcanada.com and most excitingly, a full WEEK at a forest school at a local environmental centre. Just watch and see what happens when a grade 3 class takes over a forest for a week with iPads – the curriculum is going to be turned on its head!
Yup. I get excited. Hope you do too. Thanks for reading.
More information on our TLLP can be found here: Listen Louder: Amplifying Student Voice
https://onedsschat.com Thanks Fin (my son) for the image! I agree!