A few nights ago I attended the third event in the "Engaging The Digital Learner: Going Deeper" series. There were a couple of teachers from my district sharing ways that technology is improving teaching, sharing, and assessment in their classrooms.Thanks @M1chelGagnon and Brette Galy. I enjoy hearing about the great things happening in classrooms around me and am inspired to be creative and share as well things that are happening in my school. Later in the evening we were inspired and challenged by Bill Ferriter as he spoke about Teaching the igeneration.
I believe my students are actively involved and engaged in my room most of the day (maybe most of the day is not good enough?), but I wonder if being engaged and actively participating is "it". Can I rest easy knowing that engaged learning is happening in my room?
- Does the learning meet the curriculum expectations?
- Are the activities meaningful? Does it matter if the snowman has 2 or 3 or 4 body parts? Is it meaningful to talk about snowmen in winter if there is no snow on the ground?
- Is it important for 6 yr olds to use technology?
- Is blogging actually creating an authentic global audience for my students?
- Is giving my students access to iPads, (even in a centre style as we have 5 iPads in our room) increasing their screen time, beneficial?
- Is having a word wall the best use of space?
- Are my guided reading sessions truly targeted individual instruction?
Yes, these are some of the experiences currently going on in my grade one room and yes my mind is spinning with justifications and alternatives. I can answer yes to these questions and tell you my thinking, but am willing to hear suggestions for improving my "best practices". Some of the games, crafts and apps we use/do may seem frivolous at first glance, but they all have a greater purpose. I am working at making this purpose better known to my students.
I am also thinking of how to 'build a bridge' as Bill said, between what they know about digital tools and how to use these tools for better learning. Many of my students use their tech tools at home for gaming, a few of them are beginning to blog and comment from home as well. We use many more tools in the classroom on a daily basis, but I struggle to ensure it is not about the novelty of the tool, but about the best tool for the job.
The challenge I was left with on Wednesday evening - Is It Meaningful? - is an important responsibility to keep at the forefront of my ongoing planning.