Thinking Digitally...Not Necessarily An Easy Transition

This past week we've been playing catch up trying to mow our way through the Texas Revolution. Of all the content we get to cover in Texas history, this is the most engaging, interesting series of events. Our forefathers exhibited a great deal of gumption and demanded the Mexican government fulfill their responsibilities in upholding the Mexican Constitution of 1824. As we have been looking at this content, and attempting to design work that allows the students to be more actively involved in their learning, I've come to realize this paradigm shift requires helping the students to understand their role in accepting more responsibility for their learning. 

I have been so focused on my "making the digital shift", that I haven't given much thought to my students' shift toward this new learning environment. I just naturally assumed they would easily adopt this new way of doing their work...but that hasn't been the case. It has become more and more obvious that this culture needs to be purposefully built within the learning environment.

Daniel Pink has stated that the most dangerous word in today's economy is "Routine". He stated that any kind of routine work is going to disappear from this country. This will be the work sent offshore to be completed by people willing to complete this work for pennies on the dollar. Preparing our students for the STAAR or any other newly developed standardized testing reflects this new shift in preparing students for the future. So that brings me back to my to I transform the way we do our work in our classroom that shifts the work we do from routine and sequential to crafting opportunities for my students to analyze and synthesize content in a manner they find important and significant? How can we develop and apply skills that will be utilized in an economy that values these "thinking skills"? And most importantly, how can we learn to take charge of our learning and value what it can do for us?

I am convinced I need to build this culture within our classroom and fortunately, these iPads are going to be great tools to help with this. So, what needs to be encouraged? These are some areas I am going to begin with:

  • Learning to manage time effectively
  • Making the most of collaborative relationships
  • Maximizing the resources at hand 

This is going to be challenging, but possible, if learning opportunities are well-designed and provide students time to develop these skills. But specifically how I implement work to develop these skills is going to be critical in their success. This past week, I've been looking at apps and abilities of the iPad that will facilitate the management of these three areas. Doceri, Baiboard, Nearpod, Reflector, Splashtop are all apps that provide access to iPads, allow for collaboration, can help in monitoring time management, and provide access to a wider variety of resources. Some of these work through wifi, others utilize an Airplay connection, which at this time is currently unavailable in our classroom. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring which are best for our tasks at hand and how we can utilize these for effectively developing these much-needed skills to make our digital shift within the learning environment. Stay tuned for further developments!
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