As much as I love getting to work with students and teachers on exciting projects every day, I think my favorite part about my job is something I like to call the “snowball effect” (I just made that up right now).
I’m talking about the moment when you (as the facilitator) realize that the teacher(s) you have been working with has really embraced 21st century literacy in their classroom, that they have become completely independent with their first new tool, started working successfully with a second new tool, and are anxious to move on to the next. I just love to see the level of excitement that comes with the confidence to try something new, and the spark of understanding that using these tools are not only more relevant to the kids, but that they can bring a whole new dimension to “classroom” learning.
For example: this past Monday, my first task of the day was to help our awesome grade 5 ESL teacher, Diane Mogngo, record some podcasts with her class for our Earth Day celebrations this week. We started this mini project the week before our Songkran holidays and I was hoping to see an improvement in her students’ oral language after recording and practicing before our big event on Friday.
Diane has been blogging successfully with her students for a few months now and the week before the holidays I helped her add a clustermap to her class blog. When I walked in, the whole class was literally jumping out of their seats with excitement to see how many visitors they had on their blog. And that was just the beginning of the lesson!
We spent the rest of the time on Garage Band discovering how immediately useful and relevant such easy audio recording can be for ESL students (definitely an improvement in their speaking – and after only one week!). By the end of the lesson, Diane was recording and facilitating the class on her own, and already excited to connect with partner classes using the combination of their class blog and their podcasting skills. And thus begins the snowball…
I’m also especially excited to see that several of these snowballing teachers are in the primary grades: Pre-Kindergarten to grade 2. After teaching at the middle school level for seven years, I knew the transition to the lower elementary grades would be the toughest for me, but I’m so excited to see that, with the help of our fantastic teachers, we’re really starting to gain momentum even in those intimidating (for me) lower grades. I’m realizing that there are so many easy ways to bring appropriate and authentic technology into primary age classrooms that really reflect student learning and (bonus!) make the teacher’s job easier.
So, in the interest of sharing and promoting excellent work, here are a few of our amazing teacher snowballs:
There is definitely much more going on at ISB, from Kindergarten VoiceThreads reflecting on their learning about the life cycle of plants, to fourth grade persuasive writing development through the 1001 Tales project, but this is just a short list of teachers who are starting to discover how easy it is to combine a variety of tools in order to create a classroom learning hub. I’m already looking forward to starting even more snowballs tumbling down the hill!