Collaboration can either hinder or encourage learning. It takes a very skilled teacher to create learning environments that foster collaboration. Student grouping based on interest, chemistry or ability is controlled by the teacher, but the outcome of student engagement and actual collaboration is controlled by the students. Therefore, teachers must teach students how to collaborate. Even in the ideal setting, collaboration is something that has to be practiced. It is crucial to set up expectations for collaboration. For example, during a seminar class at the University of San Diego. A graduate masters class was asked to write up a report on an issue in their current classroom. Before any presentation the entire class was asked to practice a collaboration protocol. Each week a student from each group would present their case study or issue to their group. The group would have five silent minutes to read and annotate the typed case study. Then the group would have a discussion about possible predictions and solutions about the case study. The presenter was not allowed to speak during the discussion. After the discussion the presenter was allowed to clear any doubts or questions that came up during the discussion. Finally, the group would give possible solutions for the issue. During the protocol, group members were assigned roles. At the end, this protocol help students learn to listen and participate relevant information. The time structure of the protocol reduced the amount of off task behavior and focused the group on completing the task. There are many other protocols of collaboration that do not work and create the opposite of learning. Unstructured or undefined expectations of collaboration can lead students to lose engagement, argue and dislike school. That is why teachers must seek out strategies that work for their teaching style and practice.
Augmented reality appears to have potential in a class that has one to one devices. I would like to use augmented reality for exhibition night at school. The students’ posters and hard copy projects would serve as the secret image to unlock a student video. I am thinking of sending a message to parents about downloading the application on their mobile devices before attending the exhibition. It would be neat to use in a class where all students have devices. Currently, at my site the teacher is the only one with a device. If all students had devices, I would like to use this a form of creating virtual bulletin boards. Instead of the teacher creating class posters for specific subjects, I would have students create short videos or haiku decks that contain important information. I would make simple labels with the title of the poster and then let the students create the virtual poster. After the virtual posters, I would have the students have a gallery walk to learn about the different posters. The aurasma application would be ideal to replace science posters. Another way to use the application would be to create a timeline to go over historical events. I would have students recreate important events on video and tag them to a date on the timeline. There are so many projects that be showcased using this application.
Creativity is a skill that people are quick to say, “You are either have it or not.” Most often, we can forget that creativity is a skill and not an inherited trait. Like any skill, we have to create environments and activities that foster a skill’s growth. For instance, in a graduate level course at the University of San Diego, our professor displayed a zoomed image. She asked us to write down what we thought the image was. After we shared our guesses with our peers. Once we shared our guesses became more radical and creative. Our conversation was rich with our creative guesses of this image. The professor zoomed out the image and we could see that many of us had ventured far from what this image could be. I have used this strategy with my students in second grade. At first, students had similar responses. As I continue to use this activity, I can identify my students’ schema as they explain their guesses. This creativity building exercises gives student the opportunity to venture out of the box. Additionally, students’ self-efficacy about creativity changes positively. As educators, we have to create environments and activities that foster creativity.
Another fragment of fostering creativity is teacher feedback. After learning about growth and fixed mindset, it is important to understand the importance of word choice. For instance, asking open-ended questions can lead to a rich discussion versus recall responses. Statements like “I can see you worked really hard” can help foster student’s ability to continue working hard. Statements that recognize student effort or challenge assumptions can help students reflect critically. Sometimes saying it to a student is not enough. Writing growth mindset statements on their work or leaving a digital comment can increase students’ creative output.
Steps for Guess Image Lesson
1. Select an image to show your students.
2. Save the image with a random name and do not save on your desktop
3. Make sure to zoomed image ready to go without students seeing.
4. Display image to students
5. Students discuss with a partner or group
6. Whole class discussion
7. Reveal Image
Some tips for the creativity-building lesson are:
· Pick a large image with lots of color and variation in texture
· Make sure to use different types of images (landscapes, food, cartoons, etc.)
· Allow time for students to share with a partner and class discussion
· Give students appropriate response time to explain their creative logic
Coding has become a trend in education. Yet, it is not the first time that computer programming has influence classrooms. When I was in fourth grade, I had my first male teacher. I remember being curious and anxious the night before the first day of fourth grade. I discovered many new interests that year. Little did I know that my teacher was one of kind. He encouraged students to follow their interests. In his class, I read the entire collection of Calvin and Hobbes, Baby Blues, and Zits comics. Additionally, he had six apple computers. I remember a green screen and playing games like pipe dream. I signed up for a computer club not knowing that it would be one of the most challenging clubs ever!
In the library, Mr. Rod taught us Logo programming. Known to us fourth graders as the computer game with the turtle. At the time, I enjoyed the time I spent with my friends figuring out how to move the turtle.
As we continue to move forward into a technology infused classrooms, it is critical that we teach computer science concepts. Our students come into our classrooms as consumers of technology. Most students understand the devices serve as game or communication platforms. Yet, teachers have a golden opportunity to teach students about the implications of computer science and programming. For instance, teachers can teach grammar or vocabulary through coding. Coding requires an understanding of syntax, mathematic reasoning and logical sequence to create movement in a digital image. Coding programs like Code.org or Code Monkey give teacher access to computer science curriculum. Coding programs help students conceptualize algorithm processing of computers. For example, in code monkey students must write a code for a monkey to grab a banana. There is an opportunity for trial and error. Students navigate through levels that increase in complexity. While Code.org provides students with blocks versus sentence writing. Students must place blocks in order to create code. Both programs provide user-friendly interfaces. These programs are ideal for students in primary grades. Once students have mastered the concept of coding, student can move to using code to create their own products. Students can create websites, moving gifs, animations, games and applications. If you are planning on introducing coding, check out the following videos and twitter feeds.
Michelle Villasenor is an elementary teacher that focuses on educational technology and student-centered learning to promote love for learning.