Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. (Arthur Ashe)
Throughout history the practice of teaching has always brought changing ideas. The ability to embrace change is necessary and sometimes intimidating, though teachers are often at the forefront of finding the courage to grow professionally in order to reach students in an evolving world.
This year, a seasoned teacher, Michelle Walsh-Anstey decided to bravely wade into the pond of technology for teaching, embarking on a SET-BC Classroom-Based Solution with a plan to integrate iPads into her classroom practice. Michelle was not as familiar with the iPad as she was with computers, but recognized that this alternate tool for demonstrating learning might promote engagement among her mostly boy students and provide a platform where their focus might be sustained for longer periods. With the goals of the curriculum first and foremost in her mind, Michelle worked with the SET-BC consultant to conceive projects that both she and her students could attempt with the iPad apps that would underline that content of what she was teaching in the classroom.
Michelle began with navigating around the iPad, understanding how the device functioned before beginning to attempt implementation of the iOS apps. In a few short months, Michelle and her students are now confidently using the iPad to support them in the areas of Language Arts and Social Studies, using several apps and creating increasingly elaborate productions. Students are writing, editing, using word prediction, recording their reading passages and thoughtfully determining which important piece of information belongs in their projects. Michelle is seeing progress amongst her students and has grown immensely in her confidence and ability to work with the iPad and new iOS apps. Students welcome the opportunity to work with the iPads and are growing in their ability to navigate independently and to support each other, happily reminding their fellow students and even the teacher what to do when you are stuck or can’t remember where to go next. What better way to instill in students that learning is a lifelong endeavour than to work with them to learn something new?
Pride and confidence in the work they are producing via technology has been an added bonus for Michelle’s students. During a recent SET-BC school visit, students used the iOS app Chatterkids to record themselves as the voice of a Canadian animal, telling, from the animal’s perspective, what they liked/disliked, where they lived and how they survived. Assuming appropriate voices for the animal they chose to portray (wolf, rabbit, elk, and seal), giggles and laughter were the order of the day as children proudly showed off their video recordings.
Students and teacher are rapidly understanding how a variety of iOS apps can work together to increase the potential of what they can create. Having begun with little knowledge of the iPad, Michelle is now putting the pieces together and is seeing increased use of the iPad in future projects. The SET-BC consultant involved in the class has enjoyed every minute of working with both students and teacher and is looking forward to several more visits before the end of the year.
Well done, Michelle and Grade 3 at Rogers Elementary, Victoria. It isn’t where you start or where you get to, but the joy and growth in the journey!