Monday, November 23, 2015

Unplug and move

by Kirsten Fletcher

I love technology. My first year with a 1:1 iPad pilot was one of exploration. I was constantly trying new apps and finding new ways to revamp my activities. I have discovered that I can now use Baiboard to complete tasks that once required markers and butcher paper. I can do exit slips on-line instead of asking students to hand in papers. Why fill out notecards when you can do a Google Form? Videos and media albums have replaced poster projects and group skits. Unruly class discussions have given way to more organized Schoology discussions that hold all students accountable for their responses. These are all effective and engaging uses of technology.

Baiboard vs. butcher paper
Only now I find that I really miss the way I used to do things. I could do Kahoot every week, but nothing beats the running game where students are constantly moving and interacting. Videos are fine, but they take the spontaneity out of presentations. Sometimes it is nice to pull out the butcher paper and do a gallery walk or a chalk talk. And students don't pay attention to the comments on a Schoology discussion the way that they listen to a partner's comments. As I rethink my use of technology, I am discovering that my favorite classroom activities have everything to do with movement and interaction.

We recently attended an Institute Day session with Eric Jensen. One of the big take-aways for the staff was that we need to break up learning into small chunks and get students physically moving in the classroom. One colleague commented that he came back from the session and started intentionally building movement into every class period. His students finally asked him why all their teachers were making them move around all of a sudden.

We all know that with 1:1 technology, our students have a host of new distractions at their fingertips. Rather than compete with on-line games, I find it much easier to say "Stand up - put your tablets away" and get my students moving. I've started doing this as often as I can fit it in, both for brain breaks and to keep my students from lulling themselves into a tech daze. So I incorporate technology where it advances my learning objectives, but I refuse to throw out the partner discussions, mixers, gallery walks and games that force students to interact with material in a meaningful (and unplugged) way.

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