Making It Work!

A couple of days ago, I blogged about a backchanneling activity that I did with my Grade 1/2 students. I got some fantastic comments on this post and some wonderful tweets about it too — thanks everyone — but one discussion that surfaced on Twitter about it was not having access to the same number of devices.

This is a common concern, and it’s one that I hear about often. Just on Monday, I saw this tweet from Stephen Ransom (@ransomtech) connected to this very issue too:

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It’s a topic that I’m definitely passionate about, so I decided to reply:

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I was thrilled this morning when I visited this student’s blog, and saw her reply:

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This student’s response inspired me to blog this morning! I love when others see value in the tools that they do have. Many times we focus on what’s missing. It’s true: some schools do have more than others, and I am in a very fortunate position, but even if I wasn’t, I would try to make what I do have, work.

As you watch the Animoto Slideshow about our class’ backchannel, you’ll notice that more than half of the students are using regular whiteboards. I even purchased most of these whiteboards at the Dollar Store for just over $1.

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With the use of an inexpensive digital camera, the students using these whiteboards could contribute to the conversation too. Yes, there discussion is not in real-time, and if I wanted to, I could do what Bianca Pecora (@bmp84) suggested and complete this activity in the computer lab, but the current set-up worked for me. Students were able to listen, think, and respond all at the same time, and then they were able to apply what they learned later, as they wrote blog posts on a similar topic.

My class enjoys using both high tech tools and low tech tools, and by having them use both and making choices on what ones they use and when, they see the value in using both types tools too. If you’re teaching at a school that has less access to technology, maybe incorporating what you have with with some “low tech options,” will still provide lots of possibilities for your students.

What are your thoughts on this topic though? How do you make the most out of the tools that you have access to in your classroom and at the school? I would love to hear more!



8 thoughts on “Making It Work!

  1. I haven’t done back channeling with my class. I hope we can connect at ECOO and talk about it. My concerns are the appropriate and safe use of social media with primary learners and the need for log ins/emails. Let’s talk next week.

  2. Absolutely Angie! This was a concern of mine too, and it’s why I have certain things in place too (e.g., me logging into certain accounts beforehand, circulating around during the activity itself to see that everything said is appropriate, reviewing rules together before starting, and having the option of deleting and editing posts afterwards). We can definitely talk more next week about this. Thanks for your comment! Can’t wait to finally meet you in person at ECOO!


  3. Aviva, I love how you incorporate the low tech devices such as dry erase boards so that students can engage in similar activity as with the more high tech devices. I think in the end, this is just about remembering what some effective practices are and that newer technologies don’t always facilitate brand new learning activity. Rather, some times they simply amplify effective practices that we should be employing in the first place… like having students respond to what they see, hear, do… in visceral ways that can be captured and shared with others. White boards are a great way for students to capture what they are thinking about “in the moment” and would perhaps like to share with others.

    As hard as it might be at times, we must never lose sight of the creative ways that we can help meet the learning needs of our students. As this quotation implies, it’s sometimes not the big obstacles that impede us; it’s the subtle, more insidious ones that do (like apathy and lack of drive and vision).

    “It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”

  4. It’s not the tools that make the teaching great, it’s how you teach that makes the teaching great. We don’t all have access to great tools, but with a lot of effort, we all can be great teachers. Technology has not, and will not ever replace good teaching. Your students are very lucky to have a great teacher, who knows how to use her technology to enhance her great teaching. We all can be there. That’s certainly what I’m striving to do.

  5. Thanks Karen! From your blog posts and tweets, I think it’s exactly what you’re DOING too!

    Many thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I really appreciate it!


  6. Aviva,
    What I love is that you always find the positive. It’s not about the equipment or lack of it but what can I do to help my class learn? I find myself looking forward to each post because of that message. You are the real deal & I am so happy to have found you.
    Have a terrific week.

  7. Wow! Thanks JoAnn! I think that having this positive attitude really makes a difference. It’s helped me see the potential in what I do have instead of the problems with what I don’t.


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