Technology Helps Bring the "Cool Factor"
I am a veteran classroom teacher, with nearly two decades of experience in the classroom (and many unique experiences outside the classroom!). However, over the last two years I’ve found a resurgence of energy - all thanks to technology. I can tell that my 6th Grade students feel the energy as well - they see how “cool” it is to be a student. It’s not every day that a student tells you that school is cool, so I am all about “the cool factor”!
The 21st Century student is a unique breed. They are creative, innovative problem solvers. They enjoy working cooperatively and they want to learn in an ultra-cool way! Some things I hear from my students are how Google Classroom has taught them skills they will use throughout their academic journey. They are now experts in Google Docs, sharing and collaborating on pieces of writing. They have experience creating Google Slides presentations o. Google Sheets has allowed them to use spreadsheets in conjunction with their assigned math projects. And Google Drawing allows them to create new things, like geometrical designs or a personalized pyramid when studying Ancient Egypt.
One incredibly talented student of mine told me doing art on the iPad has “taken things to a whole other level.” She mentioned the limitations of creating something artistic previously, and that now, with the art apps available through the iPad, creating things is cool again! I see the creative energy radiate from her every day! Finally, another student of mine mentioned how our technology-based classroom has brought out a creative side they never knew existed. Needless to say, my students love what we do each day.
I have phased in a program of Project Based Learning through presentation apps on our classroom iPads as well as incorporating Google Classroom into my program. So what does this look like? First, I start by giving them a driving question to steer them in the right direction. Along the way, I allow them to incorporate topics that are of interest to them and then give my students a voice to present their findings. The goal is to teach them how to dig deep and inquire about the subject they are researching. All of these pieces are necessary components of what the 21st century student needs! My students find out how powerful and “cool” it is to complete both day-to-day and long-term assignments. It has been remarkably successful and I have had 100% buy-in with parents, admins, and most importantly students.
I tell my students they are learning skills for the next step in their academic journey and beyond. They all unanimously tell me, it is cool to be a student again.
Ken Newton is a 6th grade teacher in southern California.