Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slice of Life 2 of 31: Celebrating Digital Learning

I am happy to be participating in Two Writing Teachers' Slice of Life March Challenge.  I will be posting every day in March.  My students are also participating and you can read their slices on the Classroom Challenge page.

Margaret Simon's post about Digital Learning or Digital Fun has me thinking.  She poses the question about whether or not allowing her student time to "play" with digital tools is a good use of classroom time.  Is the learning valuable?  Will it permeate to others?  A comment in our Facebook Digital Literacy Workshop group (please consider joining if you're interested) from Franki Sibberson propelled my thinking forward.

I think one of the most important things I've learned since I've been dabbling in digital literacies, is the importance of time.  I know that I need time to explore and make mistakes when I'm learning how to use a new tool.  We know how important play time is to the development of young children.  I think it's true for all of us.  It's through this play time that we can try new things, see what works and what doesn't, and share our learning with others.  We must give that time to our kids.

The other thing I've had to give up is control.  I had to let go and give that control to the students.  That was a huge paradigm shift for me.  But, we all know what can happen when we step back and let kids take control of their learning.  Great things happen and I see it over and over again in my classroom.

  We are currently finishing our Genius Hour projects.  The kids have had a chunk of time every few weeks to work on something that is of interest to them.  We are now at the point that it's time to share what they've learned.  I've given them free reign in deciding how to present their learning.  I have kids making Glogs using Glogster.edu, a few creating websites using Weebly.com, one girl is creating a slide show with voice over using Pixie, there are a few blogs being made, a few Power Points and some are choosing to create posters.  I am in no way an expert in any of these areas.  I know a little bit to get the kids started, but we don't have time to have full-blown lessons in the use of these tools.

A snippet of Jonathan's blog about his project.


The kids are exploring, asking questions, trying new things, making mistakes, and teaching each other.  It's messy and noisy.  But this time is so valuable.  They are invested in their learning because it's meaningful to them.

So, in going back to the original question, I have to answer that yes, this learning is valuable.  The kids are learning life skills not only in technology, but also in how to problem solve, work with others, and persevere when challenged.

Thank you Margaret Simon for sharing your blog on Sundays for the Digital Learning link up.

5 comments:

  1. I have experienced the same thing with our Genius Hour, as well as writing workshop. How students learn is messy, but giving up control is key to letting them learn. Such a valuable post -- thanks, Julie!
    And I didn't know about Margaret Simon either - another new name I will be following.

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  2. Julie,
    Time to play is so crucial. After a Saturday at EdcampCbus, I'm thinking teachers need this time too. You make some important points here, Julie. One of my favorites: "The kids are learning life skills not only in technology, but also in how to problem solve, work with others, and persevere when challenged."

    Ditto to Karen above, "How students learn is messy." Our roles are changing. Most days I feel like a co-collaborator or a coach. It's fun work.

    Cathy

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  3. LOVE THIS!!
    The kids are exploring, asking questions, trying new things, making mistakes, and teaching each other. It's messy and noisy. But this time is so valuable. They are invested in their learning because it's meaningful to them.
    I need to post this on the back of my eyelids. It's easy now to LOVE this but by 230 in the afternoon in room 208 I need reminded!

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  4. Wonderful to hear about, Julie. You know that this is what my school is all about, the students' choices. It is a big change for those who come into the school, but it works, and so much learning takes place when everyone is a teacher. Thanks for sharing some of the things you are doing.

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  5. Thanks for linking up and spreading the news. I love to read about your thinking here. Sometimes I feel like I am completely not in control in my classroom, but as you said, "It's messy and noisy. But this time is so valuable. They are invested in their learning because it's meaningful to them." When they are given control, the learning is indeed meaningful. I also think choice in product is important. We are having important conversations. Thanks for joining in.

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