Student Ownership. For Real.

Student ownership. I’ve watched my student tech team develop into this amazing group over the past year. Last year, I had a vision that I wanted to come to fruition; but even with that I couldn’t have imagined what it would become, what we would become in one short year.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I put out applications for students who were interested. I work in a middle schools, so there are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I simply wanted students who had some interest in technology, being a team, advocating for their school, and promoting through social media. Students joined for one or all of these reasons.

Soon after joining last year, ten of my eighth graders joined four other middle schools to be inspired by iSchool Initiative and create a three-year plan for our school. They set their sights high. They came together as a team and became leaders. Some of the initiatives they wanted our team to do included the following:

  1.  teach teachers and students more about technology; we are a 1:1 iPad school and they felt this was a need
  2. open media center in the mornings for students

Empowerment has become our middle name. Maybe our first. Students led app speed dating where they taught apps to teachers. Our student “my iPad has an issue” Google doc went to their iPads, so that they could be first on the scene before it went to our local IT. They did team building through activities like building virtual computers. Currently a few of them are trying to get a budget to build the computer for real!

The project that has generated the most excitement is their modern-day technology lab created in a room from a broken down computer lab. They created the floor plan. They  worked with me to determine what we needed to purchase for it. As a result, they own this lab.

These are middle schoolers who feel pride in what they do every day. They have a purpose in coming to school and are quick to tell me what they need and advocate for it.

Now that is real life. That is what school should be.

 

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The Future is Now!

As I watch this video, as few things stand out to me.

1. Personalized learning: students are doing what seems to be interesting to them and therefore it engages them. This is so much of what we’re talking about in the world of education these days. Just today, I spent much of my day at a conference talking about our district’s personalized learning initiative and how that looks from a broad view as well as getting into some of the nitty gritty details of it. Our students need to have learning be meaningful to them. I think back to the early years of my career when I had to write out each student and the instruction he/she would get per group and then change that at the end of the day for the next day based on what had occurred. As more devices become available, this process will become so much more streamlined and classrooms will even be able to have a blended environment for learning.

2. Student engagement: students are engaged in the video. Whatever the content, with or without technology, I want my students to love what they’re doing and find meaningful connections in it. As we continue to add technology and more sophistication to what we do, teaching is still an art first and foremost. The teacher gets to guide students to find that meaning and help those light bulbs go off.

For me, I look forward to this time of the year so much! There is always something special in the air as we set up rooms and get to know our teams. This year I set new goals in a new role. I cannot wait to work side-by-side with teachers so that those student light bulbs of engagement and excitement can explode. We might not be able to pull a science beaker out of the air, but we certainly can inspire students through the connections that we make.

The future is here.

The future is now.

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