Thursday, May 26, 2011

Technology: Consumption or Creation

As we continue to pull technology into the classroom, it is important
to recognize what we are asking our students to do with the
technology. Whether it is a smart board, a student response system, a
document camera, a digital camera, or an ipad, we need to evaluate the
ways we are asking students to interact with the technology.

There may be more dimensions to this topic, but I have recognized two
major ways we (and our students) use technology. We are using to
consume information and create representations our own understanding/
learning/inquiries. While I think that it is still very important to
give students opportunities to "consume" the information, I hope that
we don't allow our technology use to only fall into this category.
Drill type activities are important for building instructional basis,
but if we are not allowing students to use the technology for more...I
think we have missed the boat.

For example, I have loaded various apps for student consumption of
information in science on the ipads. These apps vary from internet
(safari app), drill/game apps, and various interactive books (like
Marcus Chown's Solar System). These apps are very valuable in sharing
content, developing understanding, and learning together. And, after
thoroughly exploring the content through these apps, my students are
extending their understanding by using other apps to create!

Creation apps include anything from a popplet app to create a concept
map, pages app to create a poster, keynote app to create a
presentation, drawing pad app to create a drawing...and so on. Taking
what they have learned and showcasing their understanding is an
invaluable process. The students garageband song/rap, toontastic
cartoon, or storykit book may not always be the most polished or slick
looking project, but it is a window into their understanding,
learning, and progress. It can tell me so much more than some
conventional methods of assessment.

This principle applies to almost any technology. Critically thinking
of how much time we are devoting to just the consumption of
information/skills is going to be more and more important as we
recognize what our students are going to need to be able to do in the
future. Very few instances are going to arise that require our
students to stop at the information consumption stage.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Independent Study Projects in Science

The science room...

From the ipads, there are sounds of GarageBand tracks being developed for a rap about metal corrosion. A student is using the smart board to project a picture of an archaeological dig on to a poster to trace for her background. A Toontastic cartoon is being created on iPad to show the static electricity experiment conducted. Fakebook pages are being designed in Google docs for Steve Spangler, Michael Farady, Albert Einstein, and Saturn. Two students are emailing Steve Spangler for ideas on how they can be better scientists. A cartoon strip is being created on the ipad to show the process of creating a solar distiller. Wordles, blogs, and data charts...Oh my! Science, technology, and creativity woven together into a wonderful blend of learning.

I can't describe how cool it feels to get so wrapped up in my fifth grade students Independent Study Projects for science. The day flies by in a blur of talking, laughing, thinking. Working as teams, making discoveries, and creating super cool displays of learning is a true high point. They have such control and freedom in their learning and with their iPads in hand, they are tackling the challenge.

The problem solving skills, the creativity, and the fluidity of their work with the science equipment and technology is the result of a great year together. By asking questions together, developing strategies for answering, and working like scientists all year long, we are ready to showcase this! With the help of my PLN, my tech coordinators, and my student's ideas, this is a great experience for all.

I am very fortunate to have such amazing students, such access to technology, and the ideas from other professionals on Twitter!

I wish the school year had more time...I am going to miss this group!