CONFERRING WITH COLLEAGUES & STUDENT FOCUS GROUP-SHORT REPORT
In phase 5 of my ImagineIT project, I decided to focus on supporting students to explain their discoveries and findings through multiple modalities. Students were asked to explain their findings and the process they had went through to first find a problem and then find a solution or answer to the problem.
After conferring with my colleagues, I came to the realization that my students are very capable of being proficient beings of the technological world. In the very beginning of this phase I was very wary of my students not being able to log in to the ChromeBooks and Laptops or not being able to record their performances using an iPad. My colleagues had explained to me that students do need structure in 3rd grade, however once they have it down they are able to explain the directions to their peers in a different manner. My dilemma throughout this project was letting students freely work on their findings and explanations in any way they choose without limitations, however the feedback I had received from my colleagues was first to limit them to a few selections, have them master it and then move on to various selections. In retrospect, I did find it overwhelming to manage several projects at once, however the outcome was very rewarding. Students were able to come up with something they wanted to learn more about and very well taught the class about their topic in their own way.
Given the feedback that I had received from my colleagues, I decided to limit concepts to explore. I decided to have students work on a topic that I provide, however they were free to approach the problem in any way that they choose. Within my focus group, I had students work on a project that limited them to paper, tape and scissors to design their very own paper roller coasters. In the very beginning of this project I was quite nervous about students not knowing where to begin. I had my students use videos, pictures and whiteboards to come up with their designs. The very beginning was a struggle in my eyes due to students being asked to be creative.
Unfortunately the traditional style in teaching had always been, front load the information, have students practice and then assess. This time students were given a problem and they were asked to approach it in any way that they choose. Creativity is something that comes with practice and an environment that supports it. At the very end of the project I was able to see students utilize various tools to help them come up with successful roller coasters. In the end the roller coasters were approached differently, however many students were able to value their independence and conquer a challenge on their very own.
A trend that I have noticed while observing my students is their instantaneous move to Youtube or Google to find their solutions. I must say that on the worldwide web a student can become overwhelmed with the amount of information that is out there, however this brings about the opportunity to teach my students how to search the web and determine reliable resources.