My school has a process each year called the PGP (Professional Growth Plan) where teachers work in groups or individually to inquire into something they want to learn that will help student learning. This year for my PGP I have chosen to investigate and create ways to help integrate computational thinking into math lessons, and possibly other subject areas. This is with the hope of engaging students in a multidisciplinary experience that will also help lead to collaboration skills. I have to think about and improve at designing tech-rich lessons. I have been using the SAMR model to help me plan some of these lessons from substituting a numbers spreadsheet for a table when measuring the mass of objects, to coding Spheros to help learn about drawing and measuring angles. So far I have had some success and am continuing to search and think of creative ways to incorporate tech-rich lessons into different strands of mathematics.

One aspect of this week’s resources that made me think was the article by Cofino about Transforming learning in my classroom and how I connect tech-rich lessons to student’s daily lives so that they can see the relevance in what they are doing and also think about how they can use their knowledge and skills to take action. In a recent Drone Rescue mission I made to help students learn about coordinate geometry I introduced the lesson by showing the students an article about a drone being used by a lifeguard, as this unit connects to science, during the reflection stage we had a conversation about how scientists could use this knowledge, how farmers could use it, and this created some neat ideas for further learning. Sometimes we get so caught up in teaching the tech and the knowledge that we forget about bringing it back to the real-world applications and escaping the bubble of the classroom to think about why and how the skills we are learning could be important in everyday life.

Living with New Media raised some questions for me, and how students mess around with tech in class. Play is such an important part of learning and we need to honor students and their need to play with things. How much time do you give your students to just play around with the tech (or any hands-on learning) before you start teaching it?  How much time can we afford to just mess around, and how much learning takes place during this phase?  I think it is a valuable part of learning as though the messing around stage the students will discover new ways to use an application/device and find ways short cuts to complete different tasks. Recently I started uses Epic Books in the classroom, it is a great way to curate book collections about a genre or topic and share them with your students to aid in research or just the joy of reading.  Of course, when any 10 years old develop an online profile there is going to be the avatar creation and messing around. At first I use to fight this, tell them to do it on their own time, but lately, I have begun seeing the value in it.  Through playing around with their avatar allows students to create an emotional investment and connection to the program, they familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of the application and feel some ownership over their learning.

Thinking ahead I want to focus on these two ideas for planning tech-rich lessons; how I give time to mess around with the tools when introducing them, and also to make time for discussions and reflections about how the skills, concepts, and technology they are using connect to the world around them.  Any feedback on the attached lessons would be appreciated.