Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"M" Stands for Memorable #mlearning

Cross-post from Remind101 Blog

            When you think back to your childhood education, what do you remember?  I guarantee that your fondest memory was not the grammar worksheets, writing your spelling words five times each, or what seemed to be the endless paper pencil assignments.  The times that most people remember are the hands-on activities, the field trips, and projects that allowed them to collaborate with their peers and classmates.    
            As an educator, I want my students to have many positive memories.  Seven years ago I introduced PDAs, Personal Digital Assistant, to my students.  Yes, I said PDAs.  Unfortunately, the same year, the company that made them decided to stop manufacturing them.  This is when my school district decided to go in the direction of using smartphones in the classroom.  Something unexpected happened when each one of my students had their own smartphone.   The students that usually said very little in class were now the students who couldn’t wait to be called upon.  It did not stop there.  They were not just raising their hand; they were asking to go up to the front of the room to share with their classmates.   The students began collaborating with each other.  That year we allowed the students to extend their learning outside of the classroom by taking their devices home.  They were actually excited about doing homework, and they were doing more of it.  Many were concerned that allowing the devices to travel back and forth to school with the students would result in broken or lost MLD’s.  In the end, their concerns were put to rest when not one device was misplaced or damaged in any way.  The students took pride in the interactive learning that was taking place as a result of these devices.  They were more than excited to share this learning beyond the school setting.  Students took special care of their devices, and in turn learned not only academic content, but also responsibility and maturity. 
           This brings me to the question, “Why such a change in student performance and interest in learning?”  The reason for this was that the students were given the opportunity to learn in a similar format as they do at home.  I realized that outside of the school setting, many of my students had some type of digital device, if not many, at their fingertips.  The activities that we were doing in school were all hands-on.  I specifically remember an activity that we doing on a Friday afternoon.  We called it “write, pair, share.” The students started by typing a story on their mobile learning device.  Then the students “beamed” their story to their partner who was responsible for completing the remainder of the story.    The students were so engaged in their learning that the bell rang to end the school week, and not one student stood up to leave.  They were so enamored by the lesson that they wanted to continue their learning right then and there. 
            We took our learning beyond the classroom setting and students were encouraged to look at the many educational opportunities that surround them on a daily basis.  Students were able to take their learning to another level during class field trips. They worked collaboratively to take pictures and journal about their experiences.  Through the implementation of these devices, we as educators were reminded of a very important lesson. When learning is memorable, students take ownership of their learning.  Their education now meant more to them because they now had an invested interest in what they were learning and more importantly…how they were learning!

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