Tech Task #11: A Peak Inside Your Classroom

Physical Environment

I want my classroom to be collaboration/creative thinking/active learning-friendly space. I would love for my classroom to have stand up work spaces. Royan Lee spoke briefly about how he has an area in his classroom with stand up desks and this got me thinking about how I learn best. When I am standing, my mind is more active. This may not be true in everyone, but it is something that I would like to examine. Ideally these stand up desks make it easier for students to work in collaborative groups. Of course there are limitations to this, such as classroom spaces as they are right now – the classroom I was in for my internship had 9 lab benches that were low to the ground and bolted to the floor. Hard to work around that.. Below is a picture of the classroom I was working in. (I almost get nostalgic looking at it… missing my students and co-op).

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Pedagogy & Learning Environment 

I took the time to create a social contract with one of my classes that I was struggling with during internship. This was a contract between the students and I, and also between each of the students. By building this contract together, we were able to share our expectations of what we wanted our learning environment to look like. I was able to create a visual using Wordle, which I posted in the classroom. I would like to do this on the first day with each of my classes so we are all on the same page. The picture on the left is what they feel I should expect from them and on the right is what they expect from me. 

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IMG_1500Everything that Shelley Wright mentioned about making learning meaningful was absolutely refreshing and inspiring. A summary of what I took from her: 

  • I want to teach skills using the content – not just focus on memorization of content they can find on the internet (something I have believed for over a year now).
  • Find ways to bring back student curiosity.
  • Have students document learning processes (for labs) with videos or voice threads rather than formal lab write ups where they are looking for the “right answer”.
  • Have honest discussions about our learning (first I must create a culture of respect and compassion in my classroom – no one feels silly for bringing up concerns or for making mistakes).

Technology Tools

Based on my experiences during internship, I plan to have all students create an iGo account. This is important to be because as Shelley Wright mentioned, it is hard for students to “lose” their work on it. There were waaaaay too many experiences of students attempting to save their work on the drive at the school but losing it when the computer reset upon restart. I am having them create these for my sanity… and so they can hand in assignments digitally, have all their work in one place, share easily, work in groups, have everything save automatically, have access when on any computer, etc. 

I am now comfortable with blogging! I would love to have my students blogging, maybe by starting with a classroom blog for my first year? Haven’t necessarily decided on this yet. But I do know that I want my students sharing their work with a global audience – an idea that many of our guests presented about but Heather Durnin was the one I remember using the term “global audience” which I loved.

Beyond using a blog to share student work, I want to make other social media forms useful in my classroom.. my students are obsessed with it so why not put it to work! Alec Couros described social affordances which I understood as using the technology that is readily available to us in a way that enhances student experiences. Twitter hashtags to document learning, a Facebook group for sharing information, Flickr for sharing what is going on in our classroom, same with YouTube to document and share learning. All of these are platforms that students are already using to reach out to others. Lets use what they are comfortable with to share and get input from others around the world.

Karen Lirenman shared that the technology available to us makes the world feel a lot smaller but bigger at the same time. By just reading that statement it wouldn’t make much sense but the way that she stated it was really easy to follow. I thought it was great how she was able to bring so many experts into her classroom and “flatten” her classroom walls to bring so many people in to their classroom. It is a goal to make connections and find ways to bring these experts into my classroom for my students to learn from.

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6 thoughts on “Tech Task #11: A Peak Inside Your Classroom

  1. The social contract thing seems interesting? Did you do this at the start of taking over that class or after awhile? And did you notice a difference in their behavior after you made this?

    • I actually created this with them about 2 weeks after taking over the class. I was struggling to connect with them and “win their trust” which is what led to me developing the contract idea. I did find that there was a change in the way they reacted to me after building the contract. It opened up communication and helped both my students and me to understand expectations.

      • That’s really cool. I don’t think I could pull it off, don’t have the right personality for it but it’s a really neat idea.

      • Some students were definitely resistant at first but what I did was first get them to work in groups and define different words like responsibility, ownership, respect, success, etc (what they look like, what they are not, what actions they include..). After that we came together to make lists as a class of what I am to expect of them and what they expect from me as their teacher. Not so scary 🙂

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