Since my last blog I have received very welcomed advice on considering my view of my current starting place as I begin my digital literacy journey. And I have not only considered the advice, but re-read my words. I realized that I sounded like I was in a place of deficit and wrongness. And in truth I was feeling like I was wrong to not be more digitally literate. But living in that mindset of guilt just promotes a panic to “catch up” instead of embracing where I am and going forward. It might seem like I am over-analyzing when deciding on my mindset, but I have witnessed the power of having a growth mindset in my classroom. At times during the week I encourage children to visit our “Grow Your Brain” chart to find those just right words to “recalculate” their route in their thinking so they can allow themselves to learn. This week I visited that chart. Sometimes it is important to remember to take your own advice!
Now with the decision to have a growth mindset, I began seeking a better understanding of what it means to support digital literacy in my classroom. After some exchanges with fellow educators via Twitter and in face-to-face conversations, I came away with the truth that supporting digital literacy is in part about students using technology as a tool to help them gain better understandings of their content learning goals and not just using the tools because we have them. While it is easy to get excited about using those new iPads or other devices, just using them for the sake of trying them out is likely not going to teach my students the dynamic ways technology can deepen their academic understandings. I then began to examine my current lessons and curriculum. What student learning would the use of technology support in an authentic way?
My first step down my path interestingly enough was over some rocks! My class has recently engaged in project based learning and nonfiction writing about rocks and other earth material. We have examined different types of rocks, completed a couple of experiments, and documented our findings. The students learned about the rocks’ hardness and effects of water on different types of rocks. They were surprised about the effects of water and wanted more understanding about the air bubbles they observed coming out of the rocks when they were submerged. I enlarged a view of the rocks using my document camera and SmartBoard. This close-up view fascinated the kids!
After completing this activity this past week, I began to wonder if the students could gain more information about the air bubbles and why some rocks produced more than others. I could do a search online with them, but that would make me the one responsible for the inquiry. However, if they could show their findings to their peers in other classes who conducted the experiment, they could compare findings. And if they could show those findings to a geologist to learn more about why the bubbles appeared, their understandings would be deepened. So my plan next week is for the children to document their findings using an iPad to take a photo or video of the rocks when they are submerged and to send their documentation with their hypotheses about the bubbles to other first graders. We’ll ask those students to respond with their hypotheses. Then we’ll send online our gathered information and ideas to a geologist with our questions about the bubbles. Along the way we will discuss our use of technology, why it is useful, and share opinions about its effectiveness.
In my next blog, I’ll share how using technology in this way supported growing our brains!