As most of you know, HSE21 has been a multi-year project in which administrators, teachers, parents, and students have been looking at how best to create a 21st century learning experience for our students. Through the program the Best Practice Model was developed, and in time the decision was made to transition to a 1:1 environment as a way to enhance the Best Practice Model. These decisions were made as a result of the changing world around us. As teachers we have all seen more of our students, and possibly more of our own lives, occurring in a digital world.
For most of us, if we see that a child is engaged in a particular activity, we find ways to try to encourage that skill. If your child is coloring on the wall, you may initially be upset, but you may also be tempted to put up a chalkboard, or get an easel that they can use to encourage that skill. Who knows, that kid that started out painting on the wall may turn into the next Picasso or Van Gogh. In your classroom that may mean allowing students to choose what product would best represent their learning.
Now think of our students. The second they walk out of the building they are bombarded with digital options. Smart-phones, tablets, computers, apps, websites, and more are competing for their attention. If we don’t notice that and innovate towards that, we will lose some of our students. The way I see it, more and more, technology is a right for our students in their learning. Are there moments when it may not fit, or they may not use it? Yes! But it’s also important that we all recognize that devices and digital tools are becoming interconnected with our lives and with education.
I have had many conversations with teachers who fear that we aren’t “preparing students for the real world.” How can we accurately predict what that world will look like for our students? I struggle to predict what next week might look like, let alone predicting what the world will be like in 10 years when our students either have entered, or are entering the workforce. One thing I feel confident in telling you: they will need to know is how to use technology in appropriate and responsible ways. If our only solution for poor decisions with technology is to try to permanently take technology away from our students, we are doing them a disservice. Remember, our kids are 10, 11, and 12 year olds, and they are going to make mistakes, but going to the nuclear option of “you can’t use this anymore” doesn’t teach a child anything. However, taking the device away for a period of time, and then having a conversation about the repercussions of their actions creates a learning opportunity for a child.
Sometimes drastic measures need to be taken to maintain the kind of classroom experiences that our students need – things like a temporary ban on technology – but we have to go back to the fundamentals. To be relevant for our student we must use the best tools at our disposal. By avoiding the technology permanently we are missing out on amazing teachable moments.
Thinking about your classroom, where are successes that you have had that would not have been possible without technology? Have there been times that taking the technology out of a lesson has led to better engagement and learning? Share with us some of your opinions!