Technology Tools to Inspire Thinking

Dr.Ruben Puentedura presented his SAMR model in Vancouver this past August. His work at Harvard has focused on developing this model to consider the application of technology in educational contexts has been of considerable interest on the conference circuit. He has observed and classified how technology is applied in educational contexts and describes them with the following categories:

  • Substitution
  • Augmentation
  • Modification
  • Redefinition

Not surprisingly, it is the more challenging tasks that are redefined in a way that was not previously possible, result in the most significant and promising direction for our students. The biggest challenge for many educators, myself included, is developing:

  1. The background knowledge to provide meaningful options for our students to demonstrate their learning.
  2. Opportunities for enthusiastic interest to be channeled into meaningful projects that require use of higher order thinking skills.
  3. Criteria for assessment that is broad enough not to limit the range of options but specific enough to provide meaningful scaffolding for learning.

 In some cases, we are lucky to have students who bring a wealth of knowledge in applications of technology. I was able to present the basics of Prezi to gifted students in a Multi-age cluster class in Vancouver, and the students discovered possibilities that I hadn’t even considered. I introduced the same students to Kids Blog and they showed me the various ways that their individual blogs could communicate information and learning in meaningful ways to their intended audiences.

 I have been lucky to come into contact with people using technology in their own personal learning and in educational contexts with kids. Chris Kennedy and his team from West Vancouver provided some great mentoring at PDK dinner meetings. Audrey Van Alstyne, Brian Kuhn and Joanne Carlton are presenting options for students to engage with technology in meaningful ways in Vancouver. A print source that I am finding extremely helpful is Connecting Comprehension and Technology: Adapt and Extend Toolkit Practices (2013) by Harvey, Goudvis, Muhtaris and Ziemke.

 Kristin Ziemke’s presentation at The International Reading Association’s AGM in New Orleans (May 9-12) was extremely well attended. She is in high demand as a speaker due to her work to build on the practice of using innovative technology tools to amplify the thinking of her Grade 1 students. Katie Muhtaris’ work with her 5th graders provides the practical basis to consider the digital tools that would best serve the educational interest of deepening thinking, understanding of new concepts and developing comprehension skills. The work of Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis provide the theoretical frame for considering how educators can develop comprehension and implement thinking strategies in the classroom. This book provides specific lesson plans and ideas that make small steps possibilities. I borrowed the book but it is definitely one I will purchase so I can have it for regular reference.

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