Something that I love about education in general is that all students have a shared purpose. Whatever the topic of the class is, the students all share the purpose of learning more about that topic. Of course, sometimes students are more passionate about certain topics than others, but even so, the bond created through a shared purpose is very strong.
Every Friday morning with my third grade students I have a “sharing circle.” In this circle, each student has the chance to share one short phrase that has to do with something going on in their life. For example, students might share something like, “Mom’s Birthday” or “Excited for the weekend.” Then, based on what they share, they then call on two other students to ask them probing questions about their topic. In this circle, we are all connected through one shared purpose: to learn more about each other. Through learning more about each other, we connect on a deeper level. I think this is an excellent example of a shared purpose.
Sometimes, in the field of education, we
Make moves that
Large. We attempt to change
Laws by joining protests, speaking at rallies, and coming up with theories for how things should be done.
Many moves, however, are just as powerful,
Or can lead to something just as powerful. Those
Very small moves that sometimes go unnoticed, are often the most meaningful.
Even if you think you have no impact, no power, no voice, one
Small move, is sometimes all it takes to put the wheels in motion.
I spent a lot of time this past Saturday with my eyes glued to the television as students “March[ed] for [their] Lives” in various cities across the country. I watched with awe as young person after young person took the stage, paraded in the street, and chanted in an attempt to change gun laws. It was inspiring and captivating. Taken aback by their strength and determination to get lawmakers to listen to them, I yearned to listen to more and read more about the topic. YouthRadio.org was just the place to go for this certain topic. There were many speeches made at the various marches that were publicized nationally. However, other students also made a strong impact with speeches that we didn’t get the chance to hear.
It must have been hard for the youth who organized the rallies to get everything together in such a short time period. However, clearly there were many young people who were passionate enough to make it happen and aide in the formulation of the rallies. It would probably have been helpful to have an app that joined all of these young people together, where there could be different sections of the app for various causes (important to young people) and a way for them to get more involved. I am proposing to create an app called “Relate and Rally.”
WeBot is an app that already exists that helps people find protests. However, “Relate and Rally” would not necessarily just find protests, but also connect people so they can join together, create bonds, and come up with ideas other than protests to solve problems important to youth. This would be an excellent way to get students together to express their passion in an equitable way.
I really gained a better understanding of the difference between active and passive technology tools after viewing the graphic below that Christina posted.
In terms of active technology tools, I have a couple different resources that I find work very well.
- Code.org is free to use and has individual student accounts organized under a teacher account. The website teaches students how to code, allows for collaborative coding experiences, and advances in difficulty as students master concepts. It even has “unplugged” activities which are designed to be used when you want to teach coding but don’t have access to a computer. (Perfect for closing that equity gap!) Code.org also offers free workshops for educators (I attended one last summer) to teach about how to integrate coding into your classroom.
- Office365 comes at a high price, but is worthwhile in the classroom. I love having my students work together on an assignment. They are able to access it from any device, thus strengthening collaboration and global connections in the process.
- Skype in the Classroom is another free tool that I use quite frequently in my classroom. This is probably one of the best examples of an active tech tool. Skype in the Classroom connects teachers across the globe. Through this Microsoft service, my entire class has Skyped with other classes in states across the country. We also have participated in a virtual field trip to North Carolina’s Aquarium to learn about habitats. Skype in the Classroom is interactive and promotes connecting globally.
Dear Financial Decision Makers,
I know that you have a lot on your plates, but hear my plea. As a teacher in your school district, I spend time in the classroom every day with the wonderful, curious, inventive, friendly children of our school. We have awesome staff members who teach us how to integrate technology into our classrooms. You support my graduate school education by reimbursing me for part of my tuition. I spend time in these graduate school classes learning more ways to engage and facilitate connected learning opportunities in my classroom. However, despite all of the strategies I’ve learned that involve integrating technology into my classroom, I am at a loss because I don’t have the resources to implement these strategies. Therefore, I am asking you, the financial decision makers of my school district, to consider making the decision to allocate more financial funds to increase the access to technology at the elementary level.
Students in middle and high school in our district have the luxury of 1:1 laptops. It would be really great if we could have 2:1 laptops in elementary school, so that students have more access to technology. With increased access to laptops, I could spend more time teaching my students coding, an essential 21st century skill. I could teach them more about the functions of Microsoft Office, and they could spend time learning to type at a faster rate. They could learn to design websites, access different parts of the internet, and conduct research by themselves. These are skills that we should be teaching our elementary school students as we prepare them for life in the world we live in. Students who do not have access to computers at home would be able to get experience on computers in school, so as to level the playing field and decrease the equity gap. Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to do this because we have such limited access to computers.
We are lucky enough to work in a very fortunate school district. Please consider the impact that more technology would have on our students. It would greatly improve the quality of education that our district is providing.
A Frustrated Teacher
I am constantly trying to incorporate more technology into my teaching practice, both from a teacher standpoint and a student standpoint. By that, I mean that I try to incorporate technology into the way that I deliver my instruction to make it more engaging and interesting, but I also try to incorporate technology into the activities that I ask my students to complete. However, in my classroom, there seems to be a gap between students who spend a ton of time at home on computers/tablets and students who seem to spend barely any time at home on computers/tablets. I feel as though there is a bit of an equity battle here, in that some students come into my tech-based activities with a wealth of knowledge, able to navigate the internet swiftly, while other students are barely able to open the internet browser by themselves. I am interested in looking into this equity gap. In the form of an inquiry question, this could look something like: Does exposure to technology at home impact a child’s success with in-class technology based activities? I could conduct a baseline survey to determine how much time students spend at home on technology and then venture into giving them an in-school technology task to complete with minimal instruction. I could collect data about the students who are able to successfully complete the task and the students who are not able to, and I could possibly record the amount of times they ask for help and compare that to the baseline survey results. This could help me in my teaching practice as it might cause me to spend more time with a small group of students teaching them basic computer skills to level the playing field and close that equity gap.
I loved reading and learning about the concept of Pose/Wobble/Flow this week. My source of admiration for this concept was that last year, I decided to join a yoga studio, and went to some yoga classes. I went with a friend of mine, who was an experienced “yogi,” so she was somewhat my mentor, in that she showed me where to get the “equipment” and explained to me what to expect. However, she could not prepare my body for the physically strenuous poses that encompass a typical yoga class. In reading the articles this week, I found it easy to relate to the “wobble” aspect of yoga, and it caused me to do some major reflecting on my teaching throughout the week.
As a second year teacher, my life is in a constant state of “wobble.” Sure, there are certain “poses” that are easier to flow into now that I’ve gotten into a routine — weekly lesson planning, scheduling conflicts, instructional practices, etc. These poses have become more natural for me, and therefore I can flow into them with a bit more grace than I could last year. However, this week I realized that there are many areas where I continue to wobble. A few that I noted this week are listed below.
- Dealing with student conflicts and drama
- Parent communication
- Behavior management
- Identifying academic goals for struggling students
…just to name a few. And from all of this note taking and reflection, came a discovery: Wobble is OKAY! It’s how I grow, learn new things, and develop as a teacher. Without wobble, I would have no need to ask questions and seek help from my fellow colleagues. Wobble pushes me to try something new, change up the way I’ve been previously doing something, and develop a new routine that will hopefully lead to some sort of flow the next time the situation arises.
In researching the concept of “wobble” I discovered a piece of play equipment called a Wobbel Board (different spelling). While watching this video of kids playing on Wobbel Boards at the beach, I found it to be very symbolic of “wobbling” as a teacher. When the kids have the boards one way, they are wobbling. However, when they flip the board over, they can stand on it sturdily. This makes me think of the times in my teaching practice when I’ve attempted to turn something I’m struggling with completely around and it’s become a lot easier.