This guest post is by Elizabeth Ebersole, Language Arts Teacher, Seattle Hebrew Academy. She participated in this summer’s TAMRITZ badge-based professional development Digital Age Teaching course, which kicked off her synergy for transforming how learning happens in her classroom this year. In this post, she reflected at the start of the school year on how she plans on approaching learning with her students. Tweet Liz @LizTekkie to find out what has transpired in her classroom since this reflection.
In past years, I spent the first days/weeks of school talking about Learning Styles and Project-Based Learning. I would have my students take a Learning Styles Quiz on paper and then we would discuss the results and the project choices they would be able to make in order to show what they know. We would also set up their Readers’ Journals, which were marble composition books. I would distribute the workbooks we would use for Language Arts and the textbooks we would use for Social Studies. I would make copies of countless worksheets. I would introduce (or reintroduce) them to the “black bin” at the front of the room, which was the collection spot for all of their assignments.
This year, my students took the Edutopia Learning Styles Quiz online (via their personal laptops) and then accessed a Padlet via our class blog where they posted their quiz results with a reflection on an experience that they remember really engaged their learning style. Their Readers’ Journals will be individual blogs under the umbrella of our class blog. My students will now have ready access to the online component of our Language Arts program and one of my classes is piloting the new online course for the Social Studies program we use. And… We have a new student management program with a digital dropbox feature that students will use to submit document-based assignments (good night, black bin, you’ve served us well).
Our Middle School’s one-to-one laptop program went live on Thursday, and I found myself excitedly rolling out how we would be using technology in our classroom. The classroom I share with my students is set up to be a “hub” for blended learning. Over the summer, retractable outlets were hung from the ceiling so students could charge when they need to. My desk arrangement is anything but forward-facing rows. I decided to go with a bare landscape and have nothing on the walls, except for two bulletin boards that will eventually feature information about student work, and the phrase: “Discover, Play, Create.” These three words, brought into my frame of reference by Sarah Blattner and the Tamritz Badge Learning Course, would be exciting enough if applied to any academic setting. With the addition of one-to-one and the cadre of educational technology I was exposed to during the Tamritz course, Discover, Play, Create unleashes my students’ imaginations at what might be possible in terms of engagement and choice in showing what they know. The goal that I put to my students (and myself) is that of a paperless classroom. Together we will unpack the content of our coursework, play with the possibilities for weaving technical skills with academic, and create products that showcase 21c skills.
Where will we be one month from now? In June? Excuse me, I now must daydream…