Using Technology to Amplify Student Voice in Primary/Junior Classrooms
Crossposted from Jay’s Blog: CreateExploreDigitizeReflect&Connect
“Create – Explore – Digitize – Reflect & Connect”. Almost all of our learning experiences are captured with one of these words. Like most teachers, I am always asking myself why something worked or didn’t work. When I think about whether the task embodied my classroom ‘mantra’ I can often put my finger on the element of the task that clicked. Kids want to learn in ways that are real-world. Are they using technology and communicating learning in the media-savvy, literacy-rich ways in which they are fully immersed as they navigate their physical community and digital worlds? Can students really connect with a task that doesn’t have an authentic purpose? Do learners have an opportunity to make choices, have their ideas heard, and learn how to set goals? How do digital devices amplify student voice and hook students into a project?
If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions, perhaps I can share how my ‘five words’ come alive in my room. I always keep a few student-successful learning opportunities in my toolbox, ready for re-tooling in ways that best fit my students’ needs.
Do you have access to a forest or environmental centre? Take your tech for documentation and just try and a find a subject where curriculum can’t be explored in the trees. Allow time for teachable moments – ‘real life’ is unpredictable yet sometimes those unplanned moments can be the magic that kids talk about for the rest of the year.
The focus for me is ensuring that these kids have a digital showcase of their best learning, right alongside their best fails. Anything created with G Suite automatically saves student work and a little training on the use of folders and some organization tips goes a long way. Work with digital manipulatives is shareable with a screen-capture. When students create analog work they know to snap a pic and upload to their Drive right away.
We also use Google Slides extensively as super-quick digital portfolios for all their work, like their Math-Thinking, Inspiration Station, and Booksnap slide decks that can even house their videos. These platforms are so intuitive and work beautifully with Google Sites for sharing learning.
(On a side note, my students digitize themselves every morning with a ‘mindfulness daily selfie’. At the end of the year, a 194 selfie time-lapse will be created. It’s a pretty cool artifact representing a year of their life, for just seconds of time investment each day)
REFLECT & CONNECT. I typically say these two in the same breath. We ask students to self-regulate and to set goals. It is challenging to think inward like that without the reflection being scaffolded in an authentic manner. Are students reflecting on their success in meeting a criteria? Are learners given the chance to look at their work for both strengths and learning opportunities? Are parents privy to this assessment discussion?
Reflection in my class takes many forms, both digital and analog, but the assessment cycle always considers the student voice first before I add feedback. Here’s how we do it – we use a single point reflective rubric. The level three criteria expectations are listed in the centre column. The level 2 column is blank and is completed for a criteria if a student feels that a goal for that criteria needs to be set. The level 4 column is blank and is completed should a student want to provide evidence for how they exceeded expectations.
Students have the rubric throughout the task and are asked to visualize where they lie, knowing that ALL learners set a goal for growth, regardless of the mark they think they deserve. They complete the rubric and then I go over it with a highlighter and add some written feedback. They then see how accurate they were in their self-assessment. They get really good at this over time and never ask about levels or marks. It’s been a game-changer in how I get my students to reflect on their work. These rubrics are viewed by parents and goal language is used in report cards. Students feel connected to their work and are valued in the assessment cycle.
Variety, and keeping things novel is of course quite important for engaged learners. I also use a variety of Google Forms for growth mindset metrics and learn about students’ favourite digital tools, and their overall feelings about learning. I provide opportunities for students to reflect on learning with Flipgrid and also use Flipgrid as a way for students to create math tutorials for other students. The assessment data is incredible! Students reflect on a unit with a digital portfolio. Google Slides and Google Sites works so well as a platform for students to show what they know in a multi-media rich way.
Connection, to me, is also about honouring audience. Students need to know that real human beings are interested in their thinking. Arrange visits with the mayor, hold parent sharing nights, share work digitally with other classes, invite seniors into your room, or convert the gym into a flashlight-tour museum.
Your students are doing awesome things. Celebrate it! Create-Explore-Digitize-Reflect & Connect and use technology to amplify student voice. Follow student interests and follow yours too! If you’re excited about something new that you are introducing to the classroom, I guarantee that your students will enjoy succeeding (and sometimes failing) with you!
Jay is an energetic primary/junior teacher in the Thames Valley DSB embracing the power of 1:1 iPads and having a blast transitioning his students from consumers into content creators with authentic learning experiences that connect with real world. He is currently focused on an Ontario Ministry of Education’s action research program with members of his ‘Listen Louder: Amplifying Student Voice with Technology in Mathematics’ project team. His interests include observing how providing choice in the methods students best show their thinking (e.g., open access to ed tech tools) affects growth mindset. Using single point rubrics to honour student voice in the assessment cycle fits well with his classroom mantra: Create – Explore – Digitize – Reflect & Connect. You can follow and connect with Jay at @Jay__Dubois , G+: Jay Dubois and by email [email protected]