The TechCHAT series invites teachers, media specialists and other educators from across the country and around the world to share how they're using technology to enhance instruction and student learning.
Avina is a kindergarten teacher at LAUSD's Olympic Primary Center in Los Angeles and the director of an adorable educational video based on the classic children's book Miss Nelson is Missing. The video uses songs by Garbage, Bjork, Blondie and Madonna to help illustrate his class's take on the story. Make sure to view the video here on the EducationWorld Community.
1. How has the integration of technology been proven to improve student learning in your classroom?
In our case, using film and technology to tell a story really allowed to students think about how they wanted to depict their scenes and as a result, it greatly developed their comprehension of the story. It made them think in a way they would not have otherwise, and it allowed them to learn the story inside and out. I saw great results when I asked the students to retell the story orally, with pictures, or in writing. On film, you can see their grasp of the story in the sense that many of them came up with lines and scenes that were not in the text, but were things that their characters would have said or done. This demonstrates that their strong understanding of the storyline allowed them to read between the lines and think beyond the text. As a teacher, the use of technology helped me better tap into different learning modalities.
2. What are the best tech tools for facilitating collaboration?
It’s interesting you should ask this right now, since a great collaborative opportunity came up this week. Our movie has been passed around some education circles, and it caught the attention of teacher-librarian Shannon Miller in Iowa. She contacted me about having a Q&A Skype session with our kids. We arranged it, and it was a great experience having our students connect with the use of technology. They are now in the process of developing a film project of their own. E-mail, YouTube, Skype, social media, etc. are fantastic ways to connect students and educators. We can all learn from each other, and possibly collaborate with others in our school, or even those who are 2,000 miles away.
3. In what ways is technology enabling student leadership in your classroom?
Technology really allows students to take ownership of their work. Unlike a worksheet, for example, the possibilities when using technology are wide. Students can choose how to present their ideas. Often, this requires that they work collaboratively, so it encourages teamwork and problem solving, both skills that are necessary in the real word.
For our project, because the computer-to-student ratio was 1:24, we would work with my computer hooked up to the projector and talk about what we wanted to do as a group. Each time we filmed a scene, I would use a rough edit and show it to the class. As a class, we would look at our footage and play with filters, effects, sequencing, etc. Trying to figure it all out kept us all engaged. Even though I helmed the software, it exposed the students to the process. I tried to make it as collaborative as possible so that they felt like they were involved and could take ownership of their work. This project was mine as much as theirs, so I could not help putting in some of my shenanigans as well!
4. How can technology enhance teacher-parent communication and relationships?
Communication with parents is sometimes difficult, so anything that can facilitate that should be encouraged. Due to workloads and time constraints, communication at school can be rushed or limited. Sometimes certain issues are easier to discuss via email. I know many teachers have a class Web site so that parents know what is going on in the classroom and stay in the loop. With technology, students, parents and teachers can be more connected inside and outside the classroom, via email or other forms of online communication.
5. Which tech skills and literacies are most important for students to have in the 21st century?
In my opinion, learning to navigate online environments that are supportive and safe is key. The world is connected online, and this opens up many opportunities for educators and students to work together and learn from each other. It also gives an additional purpose to our projects because now, we can present it to the world.
Make sure to view Avina and his class's version of Miss Nelson is Missing here on the EducationWorld Community.