Twisted Learning: Alternate Endings

It all started with a few teachers and a student learning goal, and where it went from there is a case study for why I am so passionate about educational technology.

Last month, teachers at Hopkins school gathered with their teams for professional development aimed at using Google Apps for Education to improve student learning experience and workflow. They were asked to come with an open mind and an individual or team professional practice or student learning goal. We first huddled up around Google Classroom to review its features and share experiences. Teachers were then given an hour to play and discover how they could use the technology to help with their goal.

One team launched mission RF.5.4, otherwise known in the Common Core world as “Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.” Their plan was to provide students with consistent opportunities to practice reading fluency and perform self-assessments, while making the task of monitoring fluency more efficient. In a great feat of collaboration, one teacher found Twisted Wave, which is an online app that allows users to record and directly upload to Google Drive. Another converted the fluency rubric into a Google Form. For good measure, I provided a screencast of the process that they could share with their students. Teachers were then able to practice using the tools as students in my Integration Station classroom and ultimately created their students’ assignment in Classroom. Touchdown!

Needless to say, it was a very productive session. But it did not end there. In the weeks that followed, not only did the creation team implement the ongoing fluency lesson, but I also visited several other 4th and 5th grade classes to get them set up on the workflow. The solution fit the teacher playbook and was being passed around. Yet another victory.

Fast forward to the other day when a teacher asked for my second tutorial for the Twisted Wave assignment. You see, at the end of the first screencast, I mentioned that the following video would show students how to upload their recording from Google Drive to Classroom. However, the second video did not exist because I could not go into Classroom as a student to capture the process. At first I thought of asking another teacher to role play with me. Then it hit me! Why not have a student experienced with the assignment play the student role and create the second screencast. How brilliantly obvious — once I had thought of it!

After a series of missed passes using the SnagIt extension for Chrome, Tomo was satisfied with his fourth full iteration and shared it with me through Google Drive. Feeling empowered, he then engaged me in an exchange of tech tips. We sat for a few minutes — suspended in a world outside of the classroom — swapping tips and extensions. He shared how his classmate Alex has mentored him and how he would like to pay it forward by starting a technology club. Wow! Two-point conversion!

So what started in the pocket of teachers on a quest to improve fluency spread through the school had ended with a student basking in the glory of one of his true passions: technology.  Of course, the real transformation has yet to come. From creating instructional videos to narrating work to capturing metacognitive thinking, screencasting holds great potential for elementary students. It is engaging, empowering and literally gives students a voice in their education. What a twisted path it has been indeed to get to this revelation, but that is how the football bounces in the game of educational technology.

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching

Cross-posted to blendedteachingtimes.wordpress.com

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