This afternoon one of my students told me that she worked on her explorer Glogster from home. She went to the site, logged in and added some facts to the glog she began in class with me earlier in the week. Now, no one asked this child to do that; no one even suggested that she do it–she chose to do this all on her own.
This is not the first time that a student has told me they worked on something at home that we did in class. I have had children write numerous stories on Storybird while at home, I have had students create animated movies in Kerpoof at home with friends. And I have had first graders line up with a piece of paper and a pencil so I could write down the link to what we were doing in class so they could try it at home. It is not these things that amaze me, though they do excite me. What amazes me is that more people are not tapping into these resources of excitement and interest for their students.
As teachers, we want students to write, and write a lot. Not every child likes to do this so it is our job to find ways to help make it more fun for them. When you have second graders asking to use Storybird so they can write and publish more stories, you need to harness that excitement and find more ways to excite your class so they want to write, even when no one is asking them to. It is the same with every subject: find what it is that grabs the kids’ attention and interest and use it for all that it is worth.
So why aren’t more people doing this? From what I heard the other day at a meeting I attended at another school, the response is “time constraints” and “state-mandated curricular obligations” that prevent them from trying out new tools. Basically what I heard (and have heard many times before in various chats) is that they do not have the time to teach the students how to use a new tool, it is easier and less time-consuming for them to use what they already know (Power Point), especially with everything else they have to do.
So, I ask, is it in the best interest of the students to have them interested and excited about what they are learning and doing, or is it in their best interest to just get it done because they have to?