Sunday, June 9, 2013

How is Technology Transforming My Teaching?

As a teacher of young children there are times when I  face resistance to the use of technology with early learners. People often assume that I am all about technology but if you've had the opportunity to spend any time in my classroom you'll know that while we use technology a lot in my classroom the focus has been and will always be on the learning.  Our technology really is just a tool, but a very powerful tool.

In my classroom technology has allowed my students to have way more choice in how they learn, show, and share their learning.  The creative apps available to us have revolutionized things in my room.  My students are far better able to talk about their learning because they are constantly adding voice to their digital and non digital work. They are (by choice) explaining the thinking behind what they are learning.  Technology allows me to hear this thinking even when I'm not in the classroom because they are sharing it on their blogs.  And yes, I often hear errors in their thinking but because of technology I can hear these errors and do something about them.  Technology has provided me with way more authentic data for formative assessment which in turn is allowing me to better meet the individual needs of my students.

In my classroom we learn with out technology too. We learn outside and we learn with hands on objects. We PLAY and explore in unstructured ways.  We ask questions,  lots and lots of questions, and we find ways to answer those questions.  Choice is key in all of this too.  I can't stress enough in  my classroom it's not about the technology it's about the learning.

But access to technology has also transformed the way I teach.  Technology, and my school districts' open wireless policy, has allowed us to literally learn with the world.  If my students are curious about something we can google it, or even better skype in an expert.  Technology has allowed my students to connect with their favourite app developer, meet a published children's author, and learn from a video game creator .  It has allowed them to learn with other children both in 1:1 and whole class situations.  It has continued to allow them to be curious.  This type of learning has been engaging and powerful for my students.


Access to technology has also broken many learning barriers for my students. As I've written about before my quiet students seem to be okay with finding a quiet private space to share their thoughts about their learning in a voice recording app.  My students who struggle with written output can add voice to their drawings or images and can explain their learning in words instead of being held back with limited writing skills. I find with technology most students are way better able to demonstrate their learning.


I also believe my students  co create  more with technology. While we can co-create with out technology (it's a waaaaaaaaay slower process) , with access to technology we've been able to create voice threads, iBooks, and iMovies with children in other part of Canada. But really we could have done this with children in other parts of the world.  Apps like BookCreator , with its combined books feature and dropbox, make co-creating globally quite seamless. Voice threads are just as seamless.


While my students are very independent they also collaborate more, often over shared technology.  When one child discovers a secret feature of an iPad app, or website they are quick and eager to share it with their peers.  This sharing is happening over and over again in my classroom both with and without technology. A more developed reader helps a developing reader read.  A more developed artist helps a developing artist.  A more developed mathematician helps a developing mathematician.  Peer assessment is happening all the time in the way they speak with one another and the comments they leave on each others blogs. It's like we are all doing what we can to make everyone be at their best.  I honestly think technology has played a huge roll in this because unlike pre tech days where the teacher had all the answers, I no longer do. My students know this and our classroom is such that it's celebrated when you are able to support and share with others.

I try not to use my technology as expensive worksheets. I always wonder when I see people so excited to have their non digital worksheet in digital form on an iPad as a way to cut down on paper. I don't really get that though because in my eyes it's just a very expensive piece of paper.  But I have noticed that we do use a lot less paper in my room because so much of our work is done digitally.  And I'm thankful that my students have blogs/digital portfolios to showcase and share this learning with their families and beyond with the world. This couldn't be done as easily with out access to technology.

These are just a few of the ways technology has transformed my teaching. I'm curious to know how it's been transforming yours?

10 comments:

  1. I definitely hear more student voice in the classrooms that use technology! I am curious about student blogs. I have had several teachers ask me about this and wasn't sure what would be the best solution for students.

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    1. I'm a huge fan of my student's blogs for so many reasons. I'm pretty sure I've blogged about them (although I'm sure i could write some more). Do a search for blog or blogging in the search bar at the top and you should find some posts.

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  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comments about technology and learning. I agree that the focus should always be on the learning, not the tool. I am going to be working with younger students this year (grades 1-3) after being with grade five for so many years. I used Kidblog for my fifth graders. Does that work for younger students? Do you have any other recommendations for blog creators?

    Thanks,
    Elena Nickerson

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    1. Elena, I am a HUGE fan of kidblog in early primary. There are many k-3 teachers using it as both a child friendly blogging platform and as a place to house digital portfolios. Kathy Cassidy set up a google doc blog sample that you might also find helpful. It has examples of different primary blogs - both student and class blogs, sorted by blogging platform.

      https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VMTswZqDkOYA95Fjw5x_vVJUOocsYPduigdhLOBy8JU/edit

      For me personally my class blog is housed on Blogger, and my students' individual blogs are housed on kid blog. I hope that helps.

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  3. I love your thoughts here. Would you mind if I used the top photo on our project page for our school's 1:1 project if I link back to you? You can see it at http://bit.ly/PES121

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    1. John, yes that is fine. I appreciate the link back.

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  4. Wow great,increasing and true

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  5. Yes I agree. Technology is improving all the time and so should the children by using it. They always say the eariler the better but its never to later. ;-)

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    1. Technology has made a big difference in the field of learning as it helps students to do research through varies websites thereby learning to be independent and having homework done on there own.It plays an important role in a child's education as the outside world is mainly controlled by technology

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    ReplyDelete