My teaching has changed a lot this year, and without a doubt, that’s thanks to my Twitter PLN. You really have made me a better teacher! I noticed this most of all as I watched my class yesterday.
We are working on a media literacy project where the students have designed their own apps, and they are going to advertise these apps too. Angie Harrison (@techieang) and her students inspired us to try this out when they shared about their own app making experiences. Over the past couple of weeks, my students have been hard at work creating an app for literacy or math, designing a logo, and deciding on the capabilities of this app too. Yesterday was the big day: the students got to paint their apps. They were so excited!
We Skyped with Angie’s class on Wednesday, and they offered us some words of advice:
1) A simpler design is better for painting.
2) Use a thin brush.
3) Outline the details in black paint.
4) Brighter colours work better.
5) Follow the plan. We are not painting pictures here; we are painting apps. Do not get distracted by the bright colours. Remember to paint the apps.
We reviewed these recommendations before the painting began. Thanks to a wonderful Grade 4 teacher at the school that saves all of his Coke Zero cans for me, I was able to have 56 cans of paint ready for our painting extravaganza. The only problem that I had was, what were the students going to do once they finished painting?
Paint Cans Are Ready
We are involved in this Flat Tiger Project thanks to @TeachingMcD, so I thought that the students could work in partners to complete a presentation on where they could take Flat Tiger on his visit to Ancaster. I figured that if I introduced this activity before the painting, the students could just go back to it once they were done. While I had an initial plan in mind, things started to change during my discussion with the students. Many wanted to use GoogleDocs for this presentation, but others really wanted to use paper and markers instead. A student suggested taking photographs and turning these “paper slides” into a presentation afterwards, and I thought that this was a great idea! Everyone was off working then: some in partners and some in small groups.
Working On The Flat Tiger Project
After the nutrition break, we then got started on the painting. That’s when it got interesting. Students created their own groups to paint, then they finished, and they were working everywhere: some were on the floor typing, some were in the pod on the desktop computers, some were at the tables drawing and writing, and some were huddled over in the buddy reading area creating their slides together. The room was buzzing, every student was on task, and every student was having fun too!
Drawing Slides And Taking Photographs Of Them
The best part is that I could just sit back and watch the learning happen. It wasn’t about me: the students were helping each other and problem-solving together. They were really in charge of their own learning.
Helping Each Other
Last year, I would never have done this. I still needed to be in charge. I always loved having students work in groups, and I still do, but group work for me always used to be here’s the activity, here’s the tool you’re going to use, and here’s what I want the final product to look like. Now it’s here’s an activity overview, here’s a possible tool to use, be creative, show your thinking, and show me the best that you can do. I like the new “me” better, and I think that my students do too!
Thank you all for helping to create this new “me.” How has your thinking changed over the year? Where do you see yourself going from here? I would love to hear what you have to say!