Grade 6 Teachers Michelle Kershaw and Jessie Krefting have embarked on a pilot project this year with their students. This pilot project is ‘SmartInclusion” where interactive whiteboards are integrated with emerging and assistive technologies for use during group and individual instruction in the classroom. The ability to take advantage of available educational technologies, effective instructional practices and increasing student engagement and achievement are the benefits of this project.
Over the past many months, students have been introduced to a variety of technology tools to extend their participation in their learning. Based on the TC2 critical thinking and Galileo inquiry models, students and teachers are working to H.E.A.T. up their learning environment. H.E.A.T. is an acronym used by the LOTI Connection and also Bernajean Porter, an educator, author and presenter. Basically, H.E.A.T. looks at:
· H – higher order thinking (from a LOW level of taking notes to a HIGH level of students learning/questioning at a synthesis/evaluation level)
· E – engaged learning (from individual learning to students defining the task, process, solution while collaborating both in and out of the classroom)
· A – authenticity (from a vague learning experience to a directly relevant experience that involved creating a product that has a purpose beyond the classroom)
· T – technology use (from no evident technology use to connecting technology use directly with the need to complete a task and students determining which application(s) would best address their needs)
What do SmartInclusion, critical thinking, inquiry-based learning and H.E.A.T. have to do with grade six students and their learning?
Students already come into school with a knowledge of which technology tools they are comfortable using. They also have had opportunities in school to work with smartboards, digital visual projectors, digital/video cameras, projectors, educational software/hardware, laptops/desktops and websites. In combining these experiences, teachers and students are looking to enhance learning, engage further discussions and ensure that all students have a voice in class.
My visit on Friday to Mrs. Kershaw’s class saw some bright-eyed and tech-savvy students who were willing to share their experiences and interested in learning more about how they could use a particular tool, the iPod Touch, effectively in their learning.
Students shared how they already use the native/original iPod Touch apps like:
· Notes – Mrs. Krefting walked through how to add notes and use this app like an Agenda.
· Calendar – Mrs. Krefting also demonstrated and had students add items to their calendar, how to set reminders, etc.
· Voice Memo – (newest generation) This is a great area to keep voice memos.
Students showed and were also shown a number of free apps that could be added to their iPod Touches to assist in their learning:
· Dragon Dictate – online speech to text dictation, easy to use and with wi-fi can be sent via email.
· NASA – missions, sky site, etc.
· Stars – using GPS, see the constellation clusters.
· App free – tracking of free apps or reduced $ apps, find free-for-a-day apps to try.
· iBooks – store e-books to read, also can purchase books.
· Arithmetick Free – basic math drills.
· MyHomework – great area to input daily schedule and track assignments.
· Animoto – make videos from video clips and images.
· Overdrive Media Console – ability to download e-books, audiobooks from your local library (must have a library account).
Some programs that students will be using on laptops/desktops:
· Audacity – free software program that allows voice/audio recording and editing. Easy to use.
· Vocaroo – online program which records your voice and then can be sent directly to a teacher.
More information about apps in learning can be found at Apps for Middle Year students.
Students were asked at the end of the presentation as to how they want technology to work for them in their learning experiences, some summary quotes are below:
· “I want to be able to research my information easily and quickly.”
· “I don’t like to write but I really can use the Dragon Dictate app to show my ideas to my teacher.”
· “I already use my iPod Touch as my agenda. I always misplace my Agenda, but not my iPod.”
I look forward to following these students over the next many months to see how they are incorporating technology effectively to continue their learning process.