Classroom tech: Engaging students, promoting deeper learning
Today’s students were born with technology that lets them find information instantly, respond to it quickly, and share their response on social media in seconds. So is it any wonder that they find it tedious to read a textbook chapter and answer the questions at the end?
Classroom instruction should adapt to this information revolution by using the technology that’s part of kids’ lives to engage students, build on their strengths and encourage them to create, collaborate and explore deeper meaning, said Holly Clark, a former middle school English Language arts teacher who is now educational strategist and head of publishing for Google Ed Tech Team at North Canyon High School on June 5, 2018.
“This change means classrooms don’t have to be incubators of memorization or places where we ask only multiple-choice questions,” Clark said to the 580 teachers at Google’s Ed Tech Team Summit at the North Phoenix high school. “Instead, we need to create environments where kids can explore and fall in love with problem solving, so that one day a kid in one of your classrooms asks about the problem of cancer and has the skills to find the answer.”
Understanding Generation Z
To create classrooms of creativity, teachers have to understand that their students – Generation Z – were born into a world with smartphones, tablets and computers.
“They do texts and usually images, and they think in small, bite-size chunks, so becomes our jobs the help them value deep work and deep learning,” Clark said.
CM Partnership video: How to communicate with Generation Z
They are so much more than their short-attention span, Clark said.
“They are kids who can become creators and problem solvers, and we know that they’re born social entrepreneurs,” Clark said. “What makes them that way is that they don’t think they have to settle for the status quo, and they find it very easy to live outside of their comfort zone.”
Clark said, “When I think of this generation, this song plays in my head.”
“We’re not gonna take it” by Twisted Sister (Official video)
“These kids are born with a stage and an audience, and they only need social media to access it,” Clark said.
“If you don’t believe me think of the Parkland kids,”Clark said. “A tragedy like that happened in the 1990s in Colorado, but there was nothing they could do. In 2018, they took to the airwaves and are saying enough. This makes for the perfect storm, not only for them, but for our classrooms.”
@HollyClarkEdu #azgoogle.This session was awesome. It showed me many different ways to change the way I teach to encourage my students to learn without it all being pencil and paper. Thank you.
— Debbie Ellis (@EllisPiperfan73) June 5, 2018
Summits in AZ were first in the nation
At the event sponsored by Google’s Ed Tech Team and the Arizona Department of Education, teachers learned more about using video, interactive presentations, maps and audio in their classroom instruction and their students’ classwork and projects.
Before the event began, a reading specialist said she was looking forward to learning more about Google Docs and how she could use them with the students she serves. A curriculum specialist said she was looking for extensions and things to help with organizing to make content more accessible. A special education teacher said she was looking for tools to help her students create presentations.
Looking forward to using Applied Digital Skills in my classroom with my special education students #AZGoogle
— Mrs. Sajdowitz (@teach4evr2009) June 7, 2018
Seven events for educators were held in Surprise, Yuma, Phoenix, Prescott, Mesa, Gilbert and Tucson, said Britton Picciolini, regional manager for Google for Education.
“This is the first of its kind anywhere in the United States, so you are the first to experience something like this, and at Google we are just thrilled to be able to do it,” Picciolini said.
📣 Next up: The 2nd (of 7) #EdTechTeam #AZGoogle Summits at @pvschools! 🔥🌴🎈 So much fun with 100s of educators! #azedchat #GoogleEdu @mrsblanchetnet https://t.co/dV2Bsf9zkd pic.twitter.com/8QJFVbfTss
— Britton Picciolini (@brittonp) June 5, 2018
A band teacher said he wanted to learn more in-depth about Google Classroom, while an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher said he was hoping to learn ways to incorporate blended learning in his classroom.
Knikole Taylor, a blended learning specialist for Lancaster Independent School District in Texas who led sessions on blended learning and differentiation at the event, said she enjoys training her fellow teachers, because she learns so much from them as well.
“The teachers have so many great ideas,” said Taylor, who has taught for more than 10 years. “I feel like I give a little, but I get so much more from them.”
Had an incredible day of learning with @edtechteam
Can’t wait until I can apply all of the #azgoogle knowledge in August!
Fall 2018 will be my first attempt at a #flippedclassroom
— MsTullyTweets (@Hannah68554398) June 6, 2018
Getting students ready for the future
Teachers need to get students ready for the world they will be working in when they graduate from high school, Clark said.
In 12 years, artificial intelligence and automation will make many of today’s jobs obsolete so students “have got to be problem solvers,” Clark said.
These are the jobs that kids will most likely have in the future, Clark said.
Are we preparing our students for these jobs they may have in their future? We have to shift to open and flexible instruction focused on how best to learn. #AZGoogle #edtechteam @HollyClarkEdu pic.twitter.com/zk8UPCByMM
— Tracy Arner (@edutechtips) June 5, 2018
To get students ready for those careers, teachers need to be open to shifting their focus from the best ways to teach to the best ways for their students to learn and be flexible on the how you teach by incorporating your students’ interests, Clark said.
That means student need to be transliterate, Clark said.
“Literate across all mediums that information can be transmitted, not just reading and writing. They need to understand narrative in images and social media and videos,” Clark said. “And they need to be able to tell a story and tell a story well using one of these new forms of information.”
To illustrate that, Clark spoke about a school in California that encouraged students to create a project that used math, language arts and media and asked the kids to tell what and how they were going to do it.
One student’s project included creating an algorithm that would predict who would win the World Series that year and a video describing how he did it and his prediction.
Video: The Connor Curve – 2016 Baseball Prediction
Connor’s project provided his math teacher with his algorithm and data to grade, his language arts teacher had a script to grade and the media teacher had the video to grade, Clark said.
“If we understand how people learn when they have a choice, and bring that into a place where they’re required to learn,then we’re going to get somewhere,” Clark said.
Then Clark told the teachers, “Today, you’re going to learn some skills and some ideas to be able to do that. You have a great amount of resources here.”
Give your kids a voice, a platform, an audience. If you don’t, they’ll do it without you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom @cmoor4 @edtechteam #AZGoogle
— Rosaline Williams (@yesdrwilliams2) June 7, 2018
Sessions and teachers’ reactions
At Taylor’s session teachers learned about Google Chrome extensions and apps to help them use flipped and blended learning in their classrooms.
Blended learning uses online learning as a complement to the teacher, while flipped learning is online instruction that take place before class time, Taylor said.
A math teacher might make a video explaining a concept and showing students how it works with a few examples, and let students view that video on their own time outside of class.
“Then when they get to me that’s prime time,” Taylor said. “So think with flipped instruction about giving them things they can really be successful with without me, and then when I get them I can expand on those items.”
Then Taylor had the teachers record a short video using ScreenCastify doing just that, answered their questions and gave some ideas for practical applications in their classrooms.
“As teachers we are really good at always thinking of remediation, but looking at your standards what happens if the kids mastered this? Why not push them on to something else?” Taylor said. “When you record your videos, I want to encourage you to do some acceleration videos and push those out as well. Let the students know that if you get this, I’m going to push out a video to you that’s the next step and you can take this even further.”
Video by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews: Google Ed Tech Team Summit blended and flipped instruction session
Other ideas included a class recap for students who are absent and short videos explaining a concept – those help students and their parents trying to help with homework.
Then Taylor showed teachers how they could use MyMaps to have students create a map of all the cool places that they hung out or visited this summer, StopAnimation to make still images into animation, and TourBuilder to create a map and layer video, images and text with it to let people know about yourself or your community.
A high school language arts teacher said he learned about all the different add ons during a Google Classroom presentation and he was especially interested in EssayMetrics which would give him statistics and data on students essays including the number of simple and complex sentences they used in their writing.
A high school social studies teacher said he will use Tour, MyMaps and some of the writing components he learned about in his classes this year.
During a session on math and science Chrome extensions, Tinashe Blanchet, who taught high school math for 12 years and founded The Learning Laboratory New Orleans, showed teachers how they could pull up scientific and graphing calculators, stopwatches, unit converters, models for geometric formulas, graph paper, worksheets and cheatsheets for students on Google and let them know that EquatiO provides them a really powerful equation editor.
“The availability of these tools requires us to change our instruction,” Blanchet said, noting that students know about these tools also. “If you’re still doing solve for X or fill in the blank, students are going to ask Google.”
“You really have to question what type of assessments you are doing with your students so they can’t circumvent them in this way,” Blanchet said. “That means you need to do more project-based learning and more open-ended questions. They can’t Google the answers to those things. And that makes mathematics and science more relevant to our students.”
Slideshow by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews: Google Ed Tech Team Summit at North Canyon High School