This is the latest in a series of blogs from the teacher cohort.
By Sue Mellon
As the year long cohort exploration into the concept of “fluency” was coming to an end last June, I needed to create a series of lessons. With ideas such as “student choice and voice,” “what does it mean to be an advocate,” and “tech and data fluency” spinning through my head, I stumbled upon a Common Sense Media activity that became my inspiration.
The Common Sense Media activity directed that students should collect data about their own technology use and then select an area of their tech use to view metaphorically. The activity then proposed students write a haiku based on this metaphor. For extension, the lesson page suggested creating a video with the haiku. The extension hooked me.
Over six years ago, when learning about Arts & Bots, I first heard my acquired mantra that “Students should be more than consumers of technology. Students should be creators with technology,” from Dr. Illah Nourbakhsh. The creation of a video offered my students a stimulating adventure as they turn their thoughts (student voice) into something observable.
My lessons were designed for an 8th grade Music STEAM class that I coteach with my peer, Beth Minda. Beth is our choral teacher and drama director. Because of her many talents and expertise, I knew that the opportunity for creativity could be pushed one step further by having the students compose original music for their iMovies using GarageBand loops.
The students amazed us with their finished products and we didn’t have to push. As an elective, we had the luxury of giving the students two or three days to explore and play with GarageBand before they had to compose 30 seconds of music. I wonder how teachers who teach ‘tested’ subjects would view these two or three days.
As much as I underestimated the students’ joy of creativity, I over estimated their abilities with data. I predicted their data skills based on Excel activities and statistics lessons from 6th and 7th grade. For this unit, my plan added a requirement that to make two different charts of their data using either Google Sheets or Excel. We were scrambling to keep frustration at a minimum. When we repeat this unit, we plan to front load a few lessons about collecting and manipulating data.
We viewed the videos as a class and all gave feedback. The students then went back and made changes to either their iMovie or their GarageBand music based on the feedback. Individually, students entered a reflection process and one area for reflection was to determine what their tech activity would have been like “old school.” They were asked to compare “old school” to now and see if “old school” had any advantages. At the end of this contemplation, they were to give “a piece of advice” using PosterMyWall.com to students their age.
Again, we were astounded by their thoughts. While we could have re-entered a feedback loop and reflection process with the PosterMyWall submissions, we decide to move on. Middle school students just need change sometimes.
The students do know that we took their ideas and created a survey. We are in the process of having students in other grades and other schools take the survey. At the end of the semester, we will share the results with them. We will all learn if students in other grades and schools view tech the same as they do.
You are invited to view both the videos and the posters with the following link:
I hope that you enjoy learning my students’ ideas as much as I did.