When classrooms reach the full promise of instructional technology there’s a unique moment. – Creative Learning
An epiphany. A student might express themself in a way they couldn’t before. A teacher discovers an innovative way of introducing content. A classroom collaborates in ways that make everyone feel more connected. In all instances, the realization is the same: Using technology sparks new moments of creative learning. I’ve seen this firsthand. As an instructional technologist at Deer Path Middle School, I have seen my colleagues harness the full power of technology and I’ve watched their students’ creativity — and student voice! — soar.
Reaching those moments wasn’t easy. We have been transforming our technology use for over ten years. We began like many others, substituting traditional materials for digital ones, then iterating with tools and strategies so technology feels like a booster instead of a barrier. Along the way, we’ve adopted iPads for every student and evolved instructional approaches. We continue to learn. Here are four best practices we have gleaned from our experience.
Nurture creative self-expression
Like many schools, no two students are alike at Deer Path. Choice is essential. We are committed to creative learning environments that meet students where they are, challenge them to grow and provide them with multiple means of expression.
We can do this with technology. We use tools that help us better gauge understanding in the moment, measure competency and skills –- across student learning styles -– and foster student choice and agency at all levels.
One of the tools we use is the Logitech Crayon. We paired this stylus with iPads in our math classes, giving students a new way to show their understanding of concepts. Students now can easily and clearly show their work instead of only relying on a keyboard or using their figures to diagram a problem. The screen recording feature lets students capture themselves as they talk through the steps of a problem and show their work with their stylus. When a student gets stuck, these inputs help them get better feedback and interventions from their teachers.
Inspire new ways to engage with content
Self-expression goes hand in hand with engagement. To stay engaged, kids need ways to express themselves and move around. Researchers have shown again and again the power of this kind of kinesthetic learning. Here, technology can unlock new ways to engage with content while also encouraging movement and creativity.