When classrooms reach the full promise of instructional technology there is a unique moment. An epiphany. A student might express themselves in a way before they could. A teacher discovers the introducing content of an innovative way. A classroom collaborates in ways that make everyone feel more connected. In all instances, the realization is the same: using technology creatively sparks new moments of creative learning.
I’ve seen this firsthand. As an instructional technologist at Deer Path Middle School, I have seen my colleagues harness the power of technology and I’ve seen their students’ creativity – and student voice! – Soar.
Reaching those moments wasn’t easy. We have been transforming our technology for over ten years. We have many others, substituting traditional materials for digital ones, then iterating with tools and strategies Technology feels like a booster Instead of a barrier. Along the way, we’ve adopted every student and evolved instructional for iPads. We continue to learn. Here are four best practices we have gleaned from our experience.
Nurture creative self-expression
Like many schools, no two students are alike at Deer Path. Choice is essential. We are committed to creating learning environments where they meet, challenge them to grow and provide them with multiple means of expression.
We can do this with technology. We use tools that help us understand better gauge In the moment, measure competency and skills — across student learning styles — and foster student choice and agency at all levels.
One of the tools we use is the Logitech Crayon. We paired this stylus with iPads in our math classes, giving students a new way to show their understanding of concepts. Students can now easily and clearly show their work instead of just using a keyboard or diagrams to their figures. The Screen Recording feature allows students to capture their own stylus with a problem and show their work. When a student gets stuck, these inputs help them get better feedback and interventions from their teachers.
Inspire content with engaging new ways
Self-expression goes hand in hand with engagement. To stay engaged, Kids need to express themselves in ways and move around. Researchers have shown up and again the power of this kind of kinesthetic learning. Here, technology can unlock new ways to engage with content while also encouraging movement and creativity.
In our school, the movement is part of our biome unit. Teachers post QR codes The science classrooms outside the hallway in different biomes. Students use their iPads to scan the QR codes, which are linked to resources about the ecosystem. Some of the coolest resources are 360-degree videos hosted on YouTube. The videos let students experience their devices moving through different environments. The whole time kids are moving and deepening their engagement with content.
Cultivate connections in and out of the classroom
The last way technology unlocks creativity is through connection. I’ve seen technology unite children and educators through improved feedback loops, collaborative learning and in-the-moment interactions. When our school is shifted to hybrid learning, where some students are fully remote and others are in the classroom, we are paired with different locations and used technology to help them collaborate.
There are too many classrooms outside of students. During a nonfiction unit in our English language arts class, students use iPads as storytelling tools to bring history home. Some wrote poems or created slideshows. Many chose to record their parents and grandparents with interviews through their family’s immigration stories. The results were powerful. Students’ emotional stories that deepen their family connections as well as their immigrant experience.
Student choice and creativity on Focus
These key moments of creative technology use have grown out of the same place: a steadfast focus on student choice and creativity. Our commitment to these elements has helped us realize the full promise of technology and creative learning of spark moments.
Colene Hardy is the instructional technology specialist at Deer Path Middle School.
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