Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Adding Movement and Social Interaction to a 1:1 Classroom

Today’s blog post was shared by Kara Pickens. Kara teaches 10th grade English, AP Language, and AP Literature at West Washington Jr./Sr. High School in Campbellsburg, IN. Her school is 1:1 using Chromebooks. Follow her on Twitter @PickensEnglish and subscribe to her newly started blog at http://gradeateaching.blogspot.com/.

Despite my excitement about using technology in the classroom (and I truly am excited!), I’ve recently become more aware of some of the possible shortcomings of constant technology use. Spurred on by an interview I heard this fall with psychologist, and MIT professor Sherry Turkle who proposes that an overabundance of technology can reduce the amount of empathy individuals have toward others (interview here) or even my own experience of needing physical therapy after years of sitting in front of a computer working on my doctorate, I’ve been challenging myself this year to add more face-to-face collaboration and movement into the classroom while still utilizing all the benefits that technology in the classroom offers.

Today I’m sharing a few ways to promote activities that incorporate the use of technology with physical interaction. I have found that these activities work best as pre-reading exercises in my high school English classroom, but I think they could easily be adaptable for other subject areas and different purposes.

The first is creating an anticipation guide for students through Google Forms. I create a series of statements that connect with our reading (often thematically) which students decide to agree or disagree with.

When students submit, they can view a summary of responses or I can put a summary of student responses up on my SmartBoard. My students like that the summary is anonymous, but I can still go back and see names connected to student responses which keeps them accountable for their work.

Often, though, I have students submit their responses and we have a class discussion over the responses. I post “Agree” and “Disagree” signs on opposing walls in my classroom and have the students treat the invisible line connecting them as a continuum. I read the statement and students move to the appropriate place on the “line” and then I call on students to explain their position. Not only are students physically moving, but I often hear bits and pieces of conversation between the students about the statements as they move.

For another type of pre-reading exercise, I use QR codes to create a “Gallery Walk” around the classroom. I use the Chrome extension QR Code Generator to create QR codes that connect students to videos, podcasts, pictures, and articles with background information about the what we are about to read. Students use ScanQR as they walk around the room and use a graphic organizer to track their learning. Again, the classroom is not quiet on days like this; students are walking around and discussing what they are learning in a way that wouldn’t happen if I just gave them a bunch of weblinks.

Just this past week I’ve been experimenting with a new type of pre-reading exercise that has the potential to include movement and conversation. Each student was assigned a different topic related to our unit and had to research what was on their slip using the interactive search website InstaGrok. They are currently creating digital timelines with that research on the Hstry website. After they finish, I am going to have the class create a physical timeline in my classroom by standing in chronological order before sharing about what they learned with the class.

My goals of physical movement and discussion in the classroom are most suited to pre-reading exercises--sometimes you just have to sit to read or write and that is okay too! But, I love that technology can be the starting point of these activities, even if the entire process isn’t limited to a digital device!

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