Last week I spent learning and sharing with teachers getting ready to go back to school. Among other things, there was a thread of technology running through the week. Thinking about ways to engage students in data collection, research and dialogue through a variety of applications and hardware. It was an exciting week for me, in part because I was able to facilitate inquiry and share in the learning myself. There is a quote sitting above my desk that reads, “Encourage students to be producers of knowledge with ownership over it rather than mere consumers of it.” (Engle & Conant, 2002) Last week was a week in which we explored that very tenant, letting go of regurgitating information and focusing on sense-making.
Let’s think about engaging students with the tiny computer they carry around in their pockets. In order to answer the question, “What effect does the surface have on the rebound of a ball?” we used video, clipping a single frame and editing the photo for each data point.
We can connect investigation to formative assessment. In this lesson, teachers responded to a prompt through Google Classroom – if equal amounts of warm water are mixed with cold water what will be the final temperature? Once predictions were made, investigations were planned and carried out. Rather than following a set procedure, groups designed their own investigations and grappled with variables and recording data. A follow-up Google Form shared final thinking about the initial, formative question.
We can improve data collection so that our students spend time analyzing the data and making sense of big ideas. Teachers learned how to use LabQuest2 devices from Vernier to collect data and then send the graph and data table to students personal devices. In this way, students can work collaboratively in the lab and then use the group experience to make sense of the data.
In all cases, learners were taking ownership over the learning experience with the support of technology. This was a great way for me to launch my work this year, and to spend a great week learning alongside some amazing teachers.
What are you excited about as your year takes off?