How do you use graphics, photos, etc...to draw interest and bring together an idea? This morning I attended a presentation on Dynamic Differentiation & Digital Age Learning by Annette Lamb in which she answered that question. Using technology, we can address the differences in our students. Technology can help us focus on the needs of groups in our classrooms. Technology can help achieve readiness, develop interests, and provide choice. Technology can do this by adding visuals, auditory components, and writing.
For instance, if a child has problems in an area such as writing or typing, an iPad can help a child as it provides a way to record and transcribe thoughts. But as well, technology can help students relay ideas or understand content through rich visual content which can attract student interest.
Create a bridge between media by connecting a reader to video or online content related to a book they are reading.
The example Annette uses is that Graeme Base, author of The Jewel Fish of Karnak has recorded youtube video commentary on his book. The online content creates an extension which can't drive student interest. Weaving these experiences and extensions together can become important.
But not all media are this rich in related content. As a result, we as educators need to work together to share resources or seek out those who have connections to content online. If something isn't available, build it yourself!
One way to turn kids on to reading is to use google as a starting point. Have a child search for a book, and read a synopsis or first few pages of a book before going to the library to check it out.
To generate interest in global topics, use the web to do a search on videos, visuals, etc... For example, on a discussion of Egypt, have them refer to sites suggested by Google to help them understand that Egypt is a real place and find out what it looks like.
Use fun tools to help them conduct their search:
-Student made tools, maps, books, artwork can be overplayed over existing content to draw a comparison. Have kids make their own map of Egypt and compare it to the real thing on google maps.
-iPad apps can help immerse students in new content. D a search for apps related to your subject.
- do a search for student work created by others and have student's critique their work for accuracy and understanding.
-put together resources using keynote or PowerPoint, Glogster, or some other web based tool.
With almost anything, you can generate student interest just by searching out supplemental videos, websites, and tools on the web. With the results you get, you can create an extension activity that enriches student understanding and interest.
As she discussed these topics, I was reminded how Apple has led us down this very path by generating iBooks textbooks that create visuals that jump off the page or provide interactive activities that go deeper into topics that normally would just lay on the page in print media. Today, she says, we have reached "a different way of thinking" and learning.
But in relating these thoughts she stresses that it is important that kids learn to generate their own content. After all, we do learn best by doing! There are a wealth of tools available to us now, especially for free, that can be utilized to generate our own content. Organizers, cameras, video tools, aggregators - all sorts of web 2.0 tools and tools on handheld devices - have given us the ability to create! Many kids have iPods of their own, or phones that carry these tools. We need to make use of these tools.
As she continues, Annette also stresses that we need to give students choice. I have been saying this for years. We need to let them choose how they analyze content, how they create content. Students don't always want to use the methods prescribed by us. They have strengths of their own; they have interests that can be used to create authentic works.
Every year, we as educators spend an inordinate amount of time learning and discussing new apps and tools that we can use. We need to apply those tools to projects in the classroom. This leads to the discussion of producing 1:1 tools such as tablets and computers. Student learning can be greatly amplified by integrating technology and allowing students to use these tools. Why do we continue to use technology behind the desk as a teacher, but expect kids to do the same old dry activities and projects? It's time to bring those tools to the other side of the desk.
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