Student Driven Conversations

Funny thing about data (or I’d like to call them stories) – when students are an intricate part of the conversation, it takes on a whole different meaning. Recently, I was with one of our Joint Teams (LSS/Classroom partners and Learning Technologies) focused on supporting learners with written output challenges. I had shared how we could incorporate audio, video, images, or word prediction using digital platforms as enhancers for students to record their understandings and how important it was to have snapshots of these over time. Using digital tools invited a dialogue about a place to collate the artifacts. Our “student blogfolios” allow students to share and hold their story digitally. A range of possibilities exist: 

  • access anytime anywhere by participants
  • collaborative feedback in an organised focused manner
  • connected communication between student, parent, teacher (of course anytime, anywhere)
  • historic snapshots of whole child learning processes

Examples you ask? Grade 6/7 , Grade 4/5 , Grade 1 , Grade 8 

Knowing your “why” aids in this journey. Without any advertising, our Learning Technologies team has seen this expand exponentially (yes we really only started a little over a year ago with a small pilot). The implications are huge as we attempt to work through what it means to communicate learning in different ways, to empower students to own their voice and story, to share these breakthroughs with parents in ways that allows for collaborative dialogue. 

If you are interested in this, please contact any member of the Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS page to apply.  

Technologies Amplifies and Changes the Way We Create

Is it “technologies amplifies our ideas and changes the way we create”? Or is it the other way around or both in tandem?

Last week our district came together for Pro-D. Aptly named “District Day”, it’s a day dedicated to learning and exploring together – meeting and connecting with friends and colleagues from other schools. Certainly it’s a day of “connectedness” where the buzz of excitement is palpable, exploration and new ideas are plentiful and teachers sharing their passions are the norm. While I must admit that this is an exhausting day but one of the most extremely worthwhile days ever! I always come away rejuvenated and filled with possibilities. It’s a sparkly time. 

What do the concepts of social emotional (perseverance, resilience, self regulation), curiosity, exploration and problem solving have in common? They are all intricately woven in the fabric of  Applied Design, Skills and Technology. At the 6/7 level, we invited lead teachers on the Thursday to experience Coding Quest. At the K-5 level, ADST is meant to be included in the regular curriculum. Inspired by Ian Landy (principal in Shuswap district) who presented at the CUEBC conference, we put together a number of centers focused on developing the mindset skills in ADST. The twist? – incorporating the core competencies of Personal Awareness, Communication and Critical Thinking. Just to give you a flavour, some of the centers were: 

  • Elenco Snap Circuits (electronics from basics to multi-levels) 
  • Keva planks (understand the dynamics of physics and architectural design) 
  • littleBits (snap together parts to code) 
  • LittleCodr (unplugged activity of developing specific logic and communication) 
  • Makey Makey (create something to do something awesome) 
  • Sphero and Ollies (code robots to do what you want them to do) 
  • Coding apps on ipads (from simple to advanced)
  • Pixel Art (post-it notes create an image – bitmap style) 

Why centers? We wanted multiple entry points to include something for everyone (a success story waiting to unfold). Each center is designed for active engagement in both the building/making aspect, as well as revealing self regulation, perseverance, resilience… (Personal Awareness Competency). Reflection during and afterwards is key to explicitly connect the maker mindset and language of the competencies (critical thinking, communication, personal awareness) in “I can…” statements.
Click here for all the center instruction cards and information on setup. 

We’d love to hear about how you’re implementing ADST in your classrooms? Send us your ideas below. 

Necessity is … “Making”

A couple of years ago I was working with a teacher doing some audio recording using iPads. The students were creating book trailers to sell their favourite books and were they ever focused in trying to describe their chosen books without really giving anything away. What transpired were constant redo’s as they reviewed their Tellagami‘s (avatar app) to get better and better at their speeches. No long boring talks either as recordings could only be maximum 90 seconds.  No one was told they had to redo but as they watched their own videos, a few, then more and more decided the end result wasn’t good enough YET. So off they went to practice and redo and redo. What unfolded was spontaneous self reflection, ownership and oh so “core competencies” in action when that wasn’t even a term.

Since then, I’ve wondered how to get those recordings without the ‘hub-bub’ of background noise – a difficult one as there really isn’t any place that students can go that is truly quiet in a school. (And no, I don’t own a hammer so anytime I think of these wild creations I go and borrow from neighbours.) In my world the simpler the concoction, the easier it will fly so scrounging I went – starting with a plain box and a bunch of foam found in the recyling bins (this is when I’m super glad that I work in the same building as IT – so much treasure in their junk boxes). Result? A portable sound booth! Testing and re-testing found that students didn’t have to crawl in to get the effect. As long as the ipad was surrounded by some sort of insulation it appeared to work. (A hint if you decide to try this – hot gluing the foam pieces on the box helps to keep things in place.)

Fast forward to now –> This year we launched the redesigned curriculum – Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST). The K-5 curricula focuses on the act of design and thinking (what I would like to offer as “make, test and remake and enjoy”. These skills are the core foundation of all later work in technologies. My foray into having a real world problem (how to get rid of background noise) readily connects to ADST. In those terms:

  • “ideate” – come up with an idea and try it
  • “prototype” – make a creation and test it out; assess my results and redo it
  • share – tell and share 
  • sit back and be proud of the results. And imagine what’s next… wondering if egg cartons will work??

This process takes a lot of practice to move towards developing a mindset of making, critical problem solving, creative thinking, perseverance and resilience (especially when things don’t go well).  What are you doing in your classes that connect to ADST? You might have to just identify those processes with language. 

We’d love to hear from you – drop us a comment. We need your stories.