At Orewa College we are into our second year of teaching and learning with compulsory 1:1 devices. We are continually reflecting upon our teaching practice and are developing many new skills. We have realised that to teach effectively in this medium we have needed to develop the following qualities:
Gone are the days of every student doing the same task at the same time. I discovered this one day when I asked the class to read a short story then do a plot activity. Once they were finished that they could work on a digital essay that they had been given for homework. When I began to check what people needed help with, I noticed that they were all doing different things – some were working on the digital essay, some were reading the story and some had started a presentation on the plot. The thing that the class all had in common was that they were all engaged. I quickly learnt from this that I needed to be flexible and allow my students the choice to do what they wanted to do and when. Since this happened I have developed activity matrices for a couple of units of work. This allows more freedom and flexibility in class.
2. Problem Solving
When you are dealing with technology there are always bound to be issues and problem solving (and patience) is a skill that is essential. Fortunately, there are always a couple of students who are willing to help you. When my class made iMovies we had a bit of trouble with emailing. The files were too big to send via standard email so one of my colleagues, @LindaRubens, worked out that they had to be iMessaged. Sometimes the files are still too big so we eventually found that if the quality of the movie was lowered then it would usually send. Students really love helping their teacher problem solve, it helps to build a positive relationship.
Having time to be creative is when my department really get their buzz on. When we are sitting around a table discussing how we can incorporate apps or websites into a tired unit of work to make it more interesting and fun we get quite excited! We often talk over top of each other in our haste to sell our ideas to each other. As a consequence we have created some really cool tasks which have engaged our students well. There are so many cool apps and websites out there that you don’t need to be restricted to having your students make PowerPoint presentations about everything. Try making a music video using VideoStar, a PicCollage, or a comic using ComicCreator instead.
4. A Risk Taker
Sometimes trying new things and being creative involves taking a risk. This year, even though BYOD isn’t compulsory for year 12, I decided to do a PBL novel study with the class as many of them do bring laptops. The novel study requires a lot of research using devices and the study is very collaborative. Everything about the study of this text is different from the way that I did it last year so I feel like I am taking a huge risk. So far it is going well though 😀 Sometimes you just have to feel the fear and do it anyway.
5. A Lifelong Learner
I have to say that there is no way that I would continue to learn about be inspired without my Twitter PLN. Through following other like-minded educators I have been able to learn about new ways of teaching such as PBL and Flipped Learning. I am able to find out about new apps that are great for teaching also. To stay fresh and abreast of new ideas is essential and Twitter and other subject based listserv discussion groups will help you to do this.
Med Kharbach has some awesome resources and ideas for developing many more 21st Century skills. So check him out!