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