Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Real Power of Technology: Authentic learning experiences

Today, teachers have opportunities to connect with experts in a way that we have never been able to do before.

I had the pleasure of participating in a NFB virtual conversation between a Mr. Rob Cannone's grade 6 class, David Suzuki--Canadian Environmentalist, and Adam van Koeverden--Olympic kayaking gold medalist, as they discussed water conservation and sustainability.  The students had previously posed and recorded  their questions and were selected to ask their question to the panel.

I walked in just as the webcast began.  The students were riveted--they didn't even seem to mind that this was all happening while their peers were out for lunch recess.  At first, as they sat there listening for several minutes, I thought, wow, this isn't very student-centered...The students basically listened to the various questions and answers posed by a number of elementary and secondary schools from across Canada.  

But when it was time to ask their question, I noticed the students move forward a little more and hold their collective breath as their class rep read their question.  And then lean in further to catch what David Suzuki said in response.  At the end of the webinar, Mr. Cannone asked them to record their big ideas and additional questions on Today's Meet and then I saw magic happen.  

The class came alive!  

They had caught every single word!  When I asked a few students about the experience they were enthusiastic and thoughtful.  Their answers showed an excellent connection to the Science curriculum and the big idea of water conservation and sustainability.

At the end of the webcast, David Suzuki posed a challenge to students to take action.  He suggested they "think globally and act locally," "celebrate water," "create an awareness campaign", etc...  When Rob and I debriefed after the lesson, he was really excited about where this might take his class moving forward.

You can call it project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, the connected classroom...  I call it powerful and engaging.  

Bravo @Mr_RCannone and all of the terrific and innovative teachers like him who use their PLNs and connections to make learning meaningful for kids.