Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Freedom to Learn with Technology

What happens when you take the restrictions off and just let students learn?
Yesterday, one of my lesson plans consisted of taking the rolling cart of iPads to a fifth grade classroom and allowing those students to work on their ocean poster mla bibliography pages on noodlebib by signing on their accounts. I quickly began to realize that many of these students were either done with their bibliography or were finishing at a rapid pace.
On the fly, I decided to give those students a new assignment. "Pick one ocean animal, research it using the available apps and create a popplet page including the name of the animal, six facts about that animal, and a picture."
As all teachers know, bibliography pages lead to lots of questions so I was still pretty engulfed with helping those students that hadn\\\\\\\'t finished their bibliographies. So when a few of the popplet building students said, "how do we do A?" or "where can we go to find B?" My immediate response was "no place is off limits today while using your iPad."
I was amazed at the way these students ran with this project. Some of them got their own iPads out because they knew they already had websites pulled up that would help them. Some of them were seeking photos from social media sites because they had been on a trip and their mom had a photo of them with a dolphin. (Of course, my fifth grader still asked "are you sure its ok for me to go there?" which made my inner control heart smile).They were free to do this however they chose...and they chose to run with it! It was probably the best "on the fly" lesson plan I\\\\\\\'ve done in a long while...and this is why I think it worked:
A) I knew I was roaming the classroom like crazy that day and I knew that I could see what the students were working on and if they were on task.
B) there is excitement about using technology in the classroom to do project-based learning.
C) I knocked down the walls of what was allowed and not allowed, gave up control that I dearly love to have and watched my students thrive in their new found liberties.
D) I have set up parameters for teaching with technology that allow my students the luxury to fail and to be restored.