How do we, as teachers, use technology in ways that improve opportunities for student learning in our classrooms? Now in our second year with 1:1 iPads, this question is always on our minds. My teaching partner and I are always thinking about ways to increase student engagement and participation in all aspects of the classroom–in line with our beliefs that engagement and participation play an important role in learning. Sometimes those ideas involve our iPads–and somethings they don’t, we are always considering student learning rather than iPad use as the goal. Paula over at Amplifying Minds wrote earlier today about the role technology should or could play in enabling learning.
This week we experimented with using the app educreations as a tool during our morning calendar time to encourage more interaction and participation. My immediate observation is that more students can share their mathematical equation generation since the white board feature allows students and teachers to see many more attempts than were available orally. And the novelty factor is certainly at work–students are interested in using the iPad, so there is more immediate engagement. I do realize we could do a similar process using our actual handheld white boards and markers–messier, but similar.
I’m also seeing students use different aspects of the educreations app for their equation generation–the typing feature, the writing feature, a variety of colors… (And it’s way less messy than the markers!) I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities, and I suspect that students will show us more ways to use this tool.
And an added bonus was reported back to me…a guest teacher who worked for my teaching partner on Wednesday using this new tool in our classroom implemented this strategy in another classroom later this week. She was quite excited about the success and engagement the students experienced, and proud of her own ability to implement a new strategy with the students.
Sometimes it take a new tool, like the 1:1 iPads to push our thinking about ways to modify our own teaching strategies…to move out of comfort zones and try new ways of working with and engaging students. I don’t have any illusions that this particular strategy being a ground-breaking innovation in learning, but even small steps can improve the learning experience for students. We just have to keep moving forward…and be open to experimentation and listen to student ideas about innovation as well!
How are you supporting and enhancing student learning in your classroom?