Last year I had the opportunity to take a technology course for a portion of my continuing professional development. One aspect of the course was to ensure that technology was being used in my classroom space for more than consumption---and to support my increasing focus on student CREATION with technology. As 2014 winds down, I think it is appropriate to reflect on what technology looks like in the enrichment classroom so far this year with an eye towards student driven creation.
In first grade students are in the middle of creating their own claymation videos that show the life cycle of a plant of their choice. You can read more of the details of this project in an earlier blog post:
Students are making this film from the beginning to the end. Although I offer mini lessons and on the go support of technology questions, they are taking pictures, creating iMovie projects (with pictures, voice overs and editing) in small groups. They have ownership of the creation of this content and when the video is complete it will share their knowledge of the plant life cycle! Sometimes in this learning process I have found myself wanting to shift the camera before a group takes a picture that has their hand in it....but I realize that just as I would never edit a student's writing as they are writing, I need to allow students to truly experience the creative process. This has been a powerful lesson for me as a teacher and I feel it improves learning ownership and student empowerment (and if they want to edit out that hand later, they do!)
In second grade we have just celebrated a month of blogging success. Students received 128 comments on blog posts that they wrote and published in the month of November (they can be found on this blog by selecting StudentBlogging from the labels menu). Second graders see themselves as bloggers--and this skill will support their creation of future content in enrichment class, and hopefully beyond! Receiving comments from family members, RES staff, and people in other states really gave students a sense of importance for their creative work.
In third grade I recently had the opportunity to experience an Hour of Code with some classes. The process of coding is mathematical and logical, and also highly creative! Students had to use advanced problem solving skills and higher order thinking as they created code to solve a variety of challenges.
In fourth grade we have been studying media literacy for the last few weeks. Our goal with this work is to improve student's critical thinking skills and help them to be more careful consumers of content in all aspects of their learning. One awesome way to support this skill development is by learning about advertising strategies. As a culminating activity, students created video book trailers, or book radio advertisements. Students worked on these in small groups or independently. In two class periods, students were able to put together advertisements that made their classmates want to read the books they advertised, as well as had clear connections to the strategies we had been studying in class. We provided students with outline sheets and feedback, but work was done by each group from props, to scene development, to filming and final editing! The final projects can be found here:
Overall I think that students are getting opportunities to use technology to create in the enrichment classroom, and that this creation is allowing them to increase their understanding of content areas and technology skills as well as experience the creative process. For me the next thing I feel that I need to develop more as an educator is to figure out how I can give students more freedom of choice with technology tools. I find that I often default to creating lessons and plans that assume a specific technology tool. This makes it easier for me as the lead supporter of the tool use, but it can serve to limit the creative process. As technology changes quickly, and the knowledge that students come to my class with varies, I am interested in thinking more long term about tool introduction across our school as a means to support students in being able to make a variety of choices when they want to create content. I have also witnessed the powerful nature of content creation in both solidifying learning, engaging the collaborative process and increasing student interest. I would like to share these ideas and collaborate across our school to increase the number of technology opportunities for our students.
What type of content creation would you like to see students participate in at RES? I would love to hear your ideas! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.