Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Freedom to Choose and Goals for the Future

As a technology coach I find it important to teach and explain different ways for my students to CREATE using their devices. This school year I have "taught"at varying levels: Keynote, Popplet, Padlet, Haiku Deck, Pages, Google Documents, Sock Puppets, Tellagami, StoryKit, Stop Motion, Toontastic, SCVNGR, Picstitch,  Moodle, Edmodo, QR Code usage, and Noodlebib to various grade levels and/or teachers. I teach apps and websites so that students and teachers have choices.

The more I teach in this role of a tech coach, the more I realize my job is two-fold. First, it is my desire for technology to be used in the classroom in a way that it becomes interwoven in the day without a lot of thought put into it. As we embarked on this BYOT 1:1 adventure in the middle school and now having 3 iPad carts in the elementary school, I feel like this has been a year of legwork. I feel like I have learned much on how to be a better help to the teachers and the students next year. I feel that I have helped many of the teachers with a toolbox of tools and ideas to implement in the future. I feel I have introduced many CREATION options to students for future projects. It is this last thought that leads me to this post...

I am a fan of giving students choice. When they can choose how they want to present information, they take more ownership in their presentations. So this year, I have explained to them what some apps do that others do not. For instance, StoryKit allows students to write a "book," while Haiku Deck allows students to make a presentation. The same topic could be presented with both apps but it is important that they know the strengths and weaknesses of their options and the audience they are trying to reach. 

As teachers, how do we allow freedom to choose and still grade fairly? RUBRICS for grading. If we give our students rubrics with required information needed for their presentations, it doesn't matter if they choose to create a clay panorama, a podcast, a Toontastic cartoon, a slideshow, or poster art. They can meet the requirements in the manner that most appeals to them. When students feel they have choices in creativity, they own their projects more. 

So this was a year of filling their toolboxes with different app possibilities. We did a little app-smashing (morphing two apps together to create presentations), we learned the pros and cons to different apps (sometimes the hard way), and as always we learned from each other. 

I am very excited to see what next school year will be like. I have goals in place:
1. MORE classroom management training for the teachers so they feel more comfortable with the devices in their classrooms and I feel more comfortable not being in control. ;)
2. MORE time teaching students research skills and how to curate information.
3. Bring keyboarding back to the 4th and 5th grade curriculum.
4. Teach and integrate digital citizenship skills and lessons for preK-5th grade.
5. Finding opportunities for classes to collaborate with others- next door or around the world.
6. Spend more time in each grade for more projects.