Blakeburn Elementary studentsRon Morwick is a grade 3 teacher at Blakeburn Elementary in Port Coquitlam, BC. He has been using technology for some time and is a great resource for his school and district. This year Ron was supported by SET-BC Tier 2 Consultant, Kamelia Dousti, as he incorporated iPads into his lessons. Here Ron shares his reflection on his experience integrating technology into his teaching practice.

“My class this year had a variety of abilities. There are about four to five students who have struggled with doing any type of reading or writing in their previous school experience and three other students who struggle with reading and writing at grade level. There are a handful of students who soar at every academic challenge and find a worksheet to be too easy and not challenging. As a whole class, they are chatty and socially busy. When we started to use some of the applications such as Explain Everything, the quiet students had the chance to record themselves and post their videos to the FreshGrade site. They loved hearing themselves and always wanted to do more. The use of Book Creator gave some students the freedom to try various story genres. Graphic Novels were a big hit.

Before the iPads arrived, some of the students hated to write and they feared sharing their work with others. Students were so quick to compare themselves and I had a few that froze in the writing process while watching others write numerous pages. For Math lessons and any follow up worksheets, students tried to find another student who knew the answer and get help by copying their answers. It was hard to find out what they knew from a worksheet response. We did have a few students go for reading or math support but the students were limited to available times by the resource team. We also had in class support but usually the teacher that came in would work with one or two and the remainder of the class tried to support each other. When students used Explain Everything to show a math concept, I instantly knew that they understood the concepts.

The other problem that was noticed was that they were seeing themselves as not being writers. When it came to reading many of the students hated that time as they would prefer to just socialize and didn’t read unless they had individual reading conferences. When we looked at the needs of the classroom we saw that students needed to find an opportunity to be successfully creative and be inspired to find their voice. The use of Book Creator got many of the students to try things that they could only imagine such as graphic novels. Looking at the success and the engagement of the students I would love to now take them to more of a structured but inclusive expectations in their writing. The power of using Explain Everything was giving students their voice so they didn’t have to fight to be heard but could clearly express themselves. The class also used Epic online and a few students with their family decided to continue the program outside of school hours. My favorite story is of a struggling student who learned to use dictation with Word to create. She developed her own book that she printed and cut out and assembled. This was something should couldn’t do before and now looks forward to express herself when possible.

The students had various responses to using technology such as, “I felt proud when I levelled up on Epic” or “Students should use iPads so they can make books and show more math.” Other students enjoyed the opportunity to share their work, “I really felt proud when my book was shared on the projector.” The conversation around technology has been interesting as it has come up at parent meetings about how to help challenge the high achiever and to help the students who have struggled. The high achievers have used the opportunity to go home and write up a storm or create their own PowerPoints. Some of the other students have used this as desire to try using technology at home such as writing stories, reading ebooks, and writing emails to family.

The great story was an unmotivated student who struggled did want to use the Lexia Core 5 program at home but now she sees it as a normal thing, just like everyone else. Surprisingly, she is motivated to use the program this summer.

There was one student who was very sensitive to redirection by the teacher but now sees his role as the helper in the class for setting up Apps for others or just helping to keep the iPads charged. He goes home every day with a large smile on his face with his parents thrilled in the transformation.

My future use of the iPads is going to be a journey and I can see how it has impacted the students and what provided the most interest or engagement to students. I will continue to encourage the students to share their work with their parents through such things as FreshGrade but after looking at the depth of possible creations I may have an iPad day where they can bring their own device to airdrop stories. The love of graphic novels has been a real hit and I am going to be spending my summer looking at how best to guide my students in creating their stories using a genre that I am not typically using in my everyday life. This opportunity has helped me develop strategies to assist my students to find their voice, and use more cooperative methods in working in collaboration. I believe having the set of iPads from SET-BC provided more opportunities to build cooperation in the classroom.

Thanks for sharing your experience this year, Ron! It sounds like your students have really grown over the year as they have found new ways to express their interests and understanding. Good luck with your exploration of graphic novels this summer!

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.