On Monday of this week, I met with a second grade class and we used Google Forms to create one-question student surveys for their current math lesson. This is a lesson that I remember doing as an elementary school student - one that until that day hadn't seen much change or innovation. Our goal was to integrate iPads into the equation for efficient and authentic data collection from classmates with real-time results streaming through the projector. We accomplished that a much more.
Second grade teacher Karen Davidson, at John F. Kennedy Elementary, reached out to me with a request. How can we make this lesson more empowering and real by using our tech tools? She was inspired by our recent district-wide elementary Valentines Day live data sharing event where students from all three schools could scan a QR Code and answer a quick survey question that resulted in live-streaming and ever-updating results while prompted classroom discussions about their authentic data. Karen and I decided to empower her class with the ability to scan and participate in peer surveys.
Once the surveying was done, we took a look at some of their newly created data and compared it to what they had learned in their math lessons about graphs. It was practical, authentic, and empowering for the students to see their ideas become reality. This, however, is not how the story ends. Here's a timelapse of the students taking the survey and then taking it to the next level.
I am always looking to do things that were previously impossible before our current slate of technology and communication tools. Having shared my own memory of this exact lesson as a student and as a teacher, I asked if the class would be interested in gathering information from people outside of this classroom. Would they be interested in gathering information from people outside of their school... their city... their state... and even their country? They were hooked.
We proposed question ideas, discussed their merits, and decided to ask a question that was fairly universal - but with definite regional favorites. What is your favorite sport? I would share the URL to this form on Twitter, using some specific hashtags and requests from influential contacts, to see what happens. The relationships and connections we have made here in Hastings, Minnesota resulted in an overwhelming global response and call to action.
I am sharing the results of their survey with Mrs. Davidson's second graders this morning. Here is what we gathered over the past four days thanks to the help of Twitter and the power of professional relationships online with educators from around the world. Video of locations.
Each elementary classroom in ISD200 is equipped with at least seven iPads. Seven connected, mobile devices are likely more “computers” that any teacher has had in their classroom in the past. Yet even when you had only a couple computers, you found a way to get students using them (usually for consumption) by rotating them through stations. Thankfully, with at least seven devices you have greater numbers connected devices and of students consuming, creating, and sharing digitally in classroom - more than ever before.
Creative Cart is built for makers. It is a movable lab of iPads designed to be use in a variety of locations and learning spaces, thus allowing students choice in their preferred learning location. Desks aren’t always best. The focus of the creative cart is on content creation and empowering our students to create digital learning artifacts that demonstrate understanding in a manner that can be easily shared.
David Warlick, an educator from North Carolina, observed that "technology is the pen and paper of our time.” A literate child must be able to read and write. Reading is consumption and it is a critical life-skill. If a child only consumes material by reading and does not write, are they literate? Writing is creation. Reading and writing together complete literacy. Using technology effectively is similar.
iPads are windows to the world. They are great for consumption of information - in fact they alleviate teachers as the sole provider of information in a classroom- but they are an even more powerful tool of creation and contribution. If our students only consume information and media, are they technology literate? Making a variety of digital learning artifacts that showcase understanding is creation. Consuming and creating, like reading and writing, together make for truly technology literate students.
Just like writing, creating gives a student voice and choice. There are a multitude of ways a child can demonstrate understanding beyond a hand-written answer on a worksheet - and I am not talking about a digital worksheet either. Kayla Delzer, second grade teacher and Tedx speaker says “If it’s boring on paper, it will boring on an iPad.” Recording reflection videos and explanation videos are easy, free, and sharable. Creating ChatterKids, Vidras, PicCollages, Tellagamis, Movenotes, Puppet Shows, and iPevo explanation videos let students create, showcase and share their understanding with others.
Pakistani educator Yogi Bhajan said, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” Consume, create, and share. When I look at apps, I ask myself “Will this app allow our students to experience and make something that was never before possible - can they create a sharable learning artifact that teaches others?” Or, is this another practice and drill digital worksheet that no one will see?
Sharing is crucial. George Couros, a division leader and global speaker on innovation in education says, “When kids do it for a teacher, they want it to be good enough. When they do it for the world, they want it to be the best!" Sharing with authentic audiences, beyond just their teacher, will bring out their best. They know that their work really matters and will be seen by family, friends, educators, and other scholars. Using Seesaw, a class website, and social media (Twitter, Instagram, and others) gives our students relevant and authentic audiences in worldly-accepted modern digital spaces.
The creative cart is built for makers. There will be times that students need to consume and use them for practice, a task likely accomplished by rotating through class iPads. However the primary function of these powerful tools, should be the creation of digital learning artifacts that demonstrate understanding and which are shared with authentic audiences.
Please contact Andy so that we can work together to bring the power of these devices to your student’s learning.
Andrew G. Leiser