This year our district implemented a one-to-one technology initiative with our seventh grade students. Every seventh grader has his or her own HP net book. Although it was quite a learning process and we continue to experience some growing pains, it has been an overall positive experience not only for the students, but also for me as an educator. I love new knowledge and learning!
When it comes to technology, I probably know more than the average person as I enjoy tinkering with tools, sites, and apps. I'd assess myself as proficient, not advanced. (But I know WAY more than my beloved husband who doesn’t understand the concept of a Google.doc and cannot even begin to appreciate my fascination and deep love for Twitter. Sorry, Honey. It's true.) In order to become more adept, you have to be willing to take the time to play, to think and to learn. As educators, this is what we SHOULD be modeling anyway, right? I finally was able to take the time (strongly encouraged?) to devote myself to the activities I have always wanted to pursue, but put off for one reason or another. As a result of some uncharacteristic gumption, I now have a blog, a twitter account, and a few Wikispaces. (Shameless plug: Check out our school Literacy Team Wiki here but please keep in mind that it is still under construction!) I use Edmodo, Goodreads, and Evernote daily. I have even figured out how to take screenshots and post a powerpoint on my blog as well as put together video on YouTube and photos to music on Animoto, Picasa, and Flickr. (Yay Me!) As our district library media specialist stated the other morning: “We’ve created a monster.”
Recently, I attempted to put together what some would refer to as a “digital kit.” I used a Google Presentation to design the kit and then shared it with the students. Think of it as a text set but without all the paper or container! (If you don’t know what a text set is... sigh...well, we will have to talk later. Or you could check out this informational handout I found on text sets.) I collected several articles, portions of texts written at different levels--which I converted to pdf files, links to websites, video clips, and photos on the topic which happens to be fast food. The students use this kit to extract information and then synthesize it for an argumentative product they are currently working on. (In addition, I am reading portions of a book Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson aloud to provide additional background information.) There is a lot of modeling and guidance provided by me as we all go through this process together.
A digital kit can be used in several ways and modified for different purposes. My first attempt is a test run and I have been making modifications to it as the students and I use it. This format can certainly be incorporated into any content area. One could also include instructional modifications to scaffold directions and prompts and to aid in processing the information. This is very helpful for those who struggle or need more guidance.
Because this is the first time I am trying this digitally, I chose the topic and am guiding the argument. (Normally, I would allow the students choice and plan to do so in the future.) Eventually, I would like to use this same format to allow students to put together their own digital kits and create their own compelling question or argument. (Now that I have gone through the process and have one of my own to use as a model.) I think it would be interesting to have the students add their own videos or use that as an option for a final product, but I'm still working that out in my head. As always, it is a process and I continue to tinker, think, learn, and grow--increasing my knowledge. I embrace technology! Bring it on!
(I would share my digital kit with you, but I have to take some time to play around with and figure out which app or tool will best allow me to do so! There also may be some copyright issues. I will have to look into that. Please be patient and stay tuned.)