“I have learned a lot from the students. We have learned a lot together.”
5th Grade Teacher
Roseann Webb is a 5th grade teacher and a self-professed dinosaur when it comes to using technology. However Roseann has something that is vital to the transition to a tech infused learning environment. She is willing to admit that there is a lot she doesn’t know. The students in her classroom are empowered to learn and explore because SHE herself is willing to learn and explore.
I often see teachers who are afraid to take the leap into tech enriched lessons because they feel they have to be experts in a program before letting the students use it. Mrs. Webb’s class is the perfect example of why letting students be a part of the learning curve can be incredibly powerful. Everyone learns in the process and those with natural abilities in technology rise and have an opportunity to become leaders in learning. I saw a student, who dreams of being a computer programmer one day, help a classmate who has learning difficulties to get onto the correct webpage and utilize the split screen view. His willingness to help was a benefit to both students.
One project that Mrs. Webb admitted was a particular struggle for the class was turning their individual results on a multiple intelligences assessment into a graph on the computer. This type of activity ties into State Standards, which people may not realize, include specific technology tasks (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7, CCSS.MATHEMATICALPRACTICES.MP4, CCSS.MATHEMATICALPRACTICES.MP5). The students volunteered, with pride, to show me their finished products. As they were pulling up their work, I was impressed with their ability to navigate the interface of the computer. Some used the trackpad on the laptop, some had brought a mouse from home to use, but they all appeared comfortable, confident and easily able to retrieve what they were looking for. Mrs. Webb acknowledges that students came into her class with varying amounts of technological experience. She has found creative ways to provide access to students who do not have computers at home. She is impressed with the progress students have made throughout the year.
Students have used the computers for a wide range of activities. They conducted research on a career they were interested in pursuing. Students were able to report to me which websites they found valuable and how they used a split screen to take bullet point notes for their projects. They were especially proud of the fact that they had multiple tabs open in their web browser as they searched. Learning how to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources, especially online sources, is one of the standards for students put forth by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
In the lesson I observed, students were again utilizing multiple webpages to learn about the periodic table of the elements. Students split their screen and easily went between sites to find out whether elements were metallic, non-metallic or metalloid and recorded their findings on a worksheet. Students worked together, actively pointing at their computer screens and helping each other locate information.
All of these incredible learning opportunities are possible because Mrs. Webb and her students are willing to work together to learn and grow. The students appreciate the opportunity to use the devices and Mrs. Webb is excited to continue learning more as well. Some people might say that computer skill or savvy is the most necessary trait in incorporating technology into instruction. However, the mentality exhibited by Mrs. Webb and her students, the willingness to try new things and learn together, is the most important step towards a true 21st century classroom.