"If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them."
-- George Couros
The Innovator's Mindset
Isn't there so much truth to those words? Curiosity is what develops life long learners, which is our exact goal as educators. We want students to always be asking, "Why?" and "How?" We want our students to question everything and have skills and strategies to get to the bottom of the answer.
My question is: How does technology help us to do that?
The pressure to use technology for innovation in our classrooms is real. To some educators, that's empowering and motivating, but to others it's overwhelming and stressful. So what guides our instruction? What is "it" that drives our use of technology in the classroom?
For me -- it's content and pedagogy. Education buzz words, I know.
Break it down this way:
Content = topics, themes, beliefs, behaviors, concepts, and facts, often grouped within each subject or learning area. In other words, the SUBSTANCE of your teaching.
Pedagogy = your actions, strategies, methods, and practices of teaching. In other words: your CRAFT of teaching.
Let's combine our substance with our craft--our meat with our potatoes. Technology is the gravy on top. We use it to improve our learning experiences and make them even better. To make learning a more memorable and lasting experience, therefore promoting transfer.
This mindset shift has made me reevaluate my purpose of tech, and how I'm using it as a TOOL to enhance and transform my students' learning experiences. This is something I'm constantly pushing myself to do better in. Using tech for the sake of tech is not purposeful and is not best practice. Simple as that. I have quite a few great projects I do with my students where Chromebooks or iPads are not involved and guess what? It's a fantastic learning experience that is done best tech-less! However, technology can most certainly enhance what we do with our students and can be so empowering.
1. Flipgrid to Replace Reading Logs
I have a whole blogpost on this HERE, so check it out for the details. Essentially, I found that reading logs WERE. NOT. WORKING. Parents hated them, students hated them, I hated them. Students faked their logs, and they truly weren't an accurate depiction of my kids' reading lives. I wanted to make reading social and interactive just like it is in MY adult reading life. Enter: FLIPGRID. Students created book reviews and recommendation videos to share with their peers. The only requirement was they included all the necessary content and posted once a week. It's changed my reading workshop in the BEST way.
2. QR Codes to Assist in Research
Research isn't easy with littles. You don't let them loose on Google Search and hope for the best. I've found that while we're still teaching how to find reliable sources, students do need quite a bit additional support here. My Science and Social Studies isn't always a "separate" time of day as it's worked into my Reading and Writing block, so research is often a part of it. QR codes have saved my research!! Here's my most recent example: Students were learning about the rainforest, and had a research journal prompt on protecting the rainforests. I simply put a QR code (using this QR code generator) on the prompt that students glue into their notebook, they scan, explore the research, and write! Take a look below.
3. Global Studies Exploration Site to Enhance Social Studies
I know provided students with experience to expand their worldview is so important, but finding time for social studies in second grade is TOUGH. I absolutely love social studies (especially geography), but setting aside time is not easy. Enter: GLOBAL STUDIES! I've created a website using Google Sites where we study a new country each month. We look into their food, geography/landscape, culture, language, currency, wildlife, and more. On each page is a new country's content, with videos, articles, virtual jigsaw puzzles (of landmarks) and matching games, as well as book collections on EPIC! When students complete the activities/readings/videos, they add a fact or two to our class' private Google Doc where we share what we've learned with each other. It's been an incredible way to incorporate my own diverse students' backgrounds into our classroom, too. Take a look at it HERE!
Dive into your content. WHAT are you teaching? Take a look at that substance I mentioned earlier and then reflect on your pedagogy. You know, your craft. The HOW. Put them together and use trial and error to decide what tech tool is going to enhance those two things. Technology is not a one size fits all. What works well with one class or group of students may not be the best fit with another. The beauty of technology is that most of the time, tweaking it to fit the needs of your students isn't tough.
Leave me a comment with an example of how you have used content + pedagogy to drive your tech use in the classroom!