Engagement, Thinking and Technology

We spoke with Jim Reese in last night's podcast about how to better  support pre-service teachers. Jim brought up the point of teaching teachers how to teach their students to be learners ready to ask questions, analyze and go deeper in their thinking. Jim also spoke about visual learning. 

Several of my recent lessons with our 5th graders have been on topics that really do need the students to go beyond surface thought into deeper analysis. The topics dealt with acceptable use of technology at our school, online privacy and citizenship. 

So how did I help my students go deeper in their thinking? 

As mentioned in a previous post, Wallwisher has been my tool of choice to get students to share ideas with others and then react to what everyone else has posted. There are other tools that allow for this but I really do like the way one can drag and drop the Wallwisher notes. This helps me group student responses in a format that then leads to further discussion once we as a class go through all the notes. The visual nature of seeing ideas and being able to respond to them is an important learning mechanism as Jim pointed out in our podcast. 

Here are some of the questions the students responded to in their Wallwisher posts:

-How does technology help you learn? 
-What are some ways and tools that you should be allowed to use at school to help you learn?

-What are your responsibilities in using the tools?  

-How do you define the term "private"? How about "public"?
-What are examples of private information?
-What tips do you have for tweens and teenagers to protect their privacy when online or in using phones?

-What does it mean to be a good citizen? What are the behaviors of a good citizen?
-What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What are the behaviors of a good digital citizen?
-Is there a difference between being a good citizen in person and online/phone?

The topics of acceptable use, privacy and citizenship all have a social angle that naturally engages students. The process of having them read the questions I post at Wallwisher, think about them, then post their ideas and read what their classmates posted is an instructional process that is bringing about more thoughtful responses from my students than just trying to have a class discussion. An added benefit of the students' work on our Acceptable Use Policy was that they had a voice in updating it for this year.