Thursday, February 9, 2012

Students' Share Their Opinions on WiFi Devices...

Ann and I's teaching practice has dramatically shifted this year.  Technology is now a natural part of our learning environment and students interact with resources in ways that best fit their learning needs, rather than when directed by us.  

Recently we allowed 2 students to access their personal WiFi devices within the math block to enhance their practice towards their individual goals. A bit of action-based research on our part as we think about the future needs of technology and ways it can be integrated into the learning environment. (Our school policy is for these devices to be checked into the office each morning when brought to school, as we do not normally allow students to BYOD.)  

The first thing we noticed was that the learning environment was not disturbed as these students accessed their devices.  Students continued learning and did not become distracted by the "foreign objects" within the classroom.  And I say this jokingly because many assume this will be the case.  In reality, what is more unnatural for students in our current digital era is to NOT see or use these tools within their learning world. 

The second thing we noticed was how they used a variety of apps to practice skills, search for vocabulary and research information.  They took notes and recorded sample problems to return to later.  They photographed visuals that related to their learning, as well.  I know this is how I utilize my own device throughout my own learning process, but it was refreshing to see how natural these devices allowed the students to think and apply information within their own learning experience. 

Today we had to speak with these students about this "investigative process" regarding the use of their personal WiFi devices to assist in their learning.  We explained that our trial run was nearing completion.  Within 30 minutes they delivered a typed document to us.  Four boys decided to share with us "why WiFi devices should be available to students".  Some highlights of their efforts:
  • they compared the devices to "mini-computers"
  • they referenced specific Apps (Webster's Dictionary, Algebra Plus)
  • they mentioned how the resources could be used in different content areas
  • they also mentioned how they could have quick access to the Internet
  • they made a point to share how their devices help with real-life skills and responsibility
  • they stated that the devices allow one to "take your own learning into your own hands"
And our favorite part was that it was signed, "This has been created by the people, for the people, and for the people's learning.

We have spent the year encouraging our students to understand themselves as learners, hoping to empower them as they walk their personalized learning path.  Our students politely spoke their minds today requesting the use of a resource that will aid them in meeting their learning needs. We are proud of their approach to sharing their collective voice.  And we will continue to do our part to do what we can to advocate for their individual needs.  We explained that rules cannot be changed overnight, but that you can make a difference by sharing ideas and evidence to support a positive change.... ~Celina

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