On Tuesday night, my amazing grad students presented their final portfolios. I was so impressed with both the projects they had created and their philosophies regarding the use of educational technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Girl and Boy Coding at Escalante Elementary School Hour of Code
One of my graduate students is a first grade teacher. She said that her students had never been scheduled for the computer lab or mobile carts, because those were for the older kids. She wanted to show her principal and the other teachers at her school that first graders could do great things with technology. For her Master's project, she created a unit on informational text that used technology to differentiate students' learning experiences. She was able to provide students with tiered readings, surveys to determine interests and resources that aligned with those interests, and opportunities to create final products – in this case, digital stories – that worked with students' levels of readiness and unique needs.
In the end, every single child met or exceeded the requirements of the rubric. How often can we say that? Some children typed and narrated their own digital stories, while others narrated them and the teacher helped type them. One child, a recent immigrant from Mexico, was able to complete his story in Spanish. But every single child read informational text, summarized it, wrote a script, found pictures to enhance their message, and told their story.
Her final conclusion? Children are capable of so much more than we think they are. One of the most beautiful things about educational technology is that it gives a voice to students who often aren't heard. It motivates children who seem to not care. It gives students confidence when they often doubt themselves. And it shows us, as adults, that they can do incredible things.
So, while our students may not click the right button on the SAGE test in the next few weeks, how might they better tell us what they know through something they create?