When Brisbane, Australia experienced floods in 2011, Kathy Cassidy’s connected grade-one students wondered if their seven year old skyping friends were safe. They tweeted them from Canada to find out. Result: meaningful and authentic writing and reading.
Our arts education teachers quietly go about their work, often marginalized to the ‘extras’ or the ‘fluff’ of the school program, writes Canadian teacher educator Brenda Sherry. “And yet, I would argue that they are the PBL experts that we seek!” Sherry describes several attributes of student-centered pedagogy that are common among teachers of drama, music, painting, dance and artistic crafts.
In mid-December, 33 tenth grade students, three teachers, assorted parents, and four guest judges gathered to watch the first ever Constitutional Amendments Film Festival at our school. The film festival was the largest and most complex research-based project of the three we’d done since school began this year. My colleagues and I had committed our students to two and one-half weeks of research, film creation, and film editing.
It’s Arwen Kuttner’s first year with iPads and her first year as a reading support teacher in second grade. Can the iPads help her struggling readers? When it comes to letters and sounds, she’s not willing to trade her multisensory learning techniques for a digital tablet. But creation-based apps could help deepen reading comprehension. “It’s up to me,” she writes, “to know when to use the iPads and when not to, in order to keep learning effective and meaningful.”
All of us who advocate for the learning potential of mobile technologies continue to navigate the hurdles of opening up BYOD devices in the unique context of school. My students and I had an “a-ha” moment the other day, in terms of digital citizenship and how we really need to think before we post images to the Internet. Or maybe even before we take the picture.
For generations, we have almost completely bypassed the development of true problem solving skills in our curricula, avoiding the hard questions “at the very end of the textbook chapter.” Instructional technology director Tim Holt makes the case that Problem-Based (not project-based) Learning can go a long way to address the deficit.