I have had the great pleasure of working with a small group of students during the past few weeks. Our focus is on math, specifically fractions. I haven’t been in the classroom full time for a few years and, although I knew that children pretty much remain the same, I wondered how I would adjust to the “new ways of doing business.” I found some constants and some things that made my “work” a bit simpler.
As we gathered for a lesson using Skittles candies, the reception was much as it has been throughout time – utter joy. Children love candy, and nothing is better than participating in a lesson where one gets to eat one’s work product! Skittles were sorted by color and fractions were determined and a graph was created that displayed the data. Next was the part children dislike the most…having an assignment. They were given the work to complete and told the expectations that would need to be met to successfully submit the assignment. This is where things shifted.
In the past I would have created a beautiful handout that explained everything and reminded them to take notes about what was required. Instead, they quickly snapped pictures on their iPads for future reference. In addition, due to my schedule they were asked to send me their work in an email because I would not be in school to collect it. Finally, they need to create a graph on the iPad and share it with me. Here is the wonder. I spent about 45 minutes with these terrific children. They now can run with the work. They will work alone, as a group, and with our Instructional Technology Coach to complete all facets of this assignment. I am not “needed,” but am there to ask questions if they’d like…by email or Edmodo. I am a virtual presence and others are there to support their efforts.
Working with children truly does take a village and that village includes networks of people and wires. We are connected in many different ways. Technology is not “the” answer or a panacea, but it certainly opens doors to possibilities that would not exist without its presence in our lives. In this case it allowed me to work with children, which is great fun for me, and to communicate with them as needed to allow their success. I look forward to the next time we are together in the classroom and seeing where our connections lead us as we continue to learn together. What fun!