I had the opportunity to spend the morning in the Digital Lab at Norma Rose Point School with middle school students yesterday. There are just those days when just being in a buzzing room of completely engaged students fills my heart with an amazing sense of how much of a privilege it is to be an educator in this time and place in history. We are part of unprecedented change and possibility in the school system.
Adrienne Wood is our Digital Media specialist. Middle School students come to her for a three month rotation in the Digital Media Studio for 3 periods per week. At this time they are exposed to a variety of applications on the computers / iPads and Maker Space using Raspberry Pi. The teacher provides a link with the goals and expectations of this exploratory class. Students are required to complete ten projects in groups of three. Each project is done with different group members to give students experience collaborating with a variety of people with a variety of approaches to the project work.
Yesterday students entered the Studio with a clear sense of what they needed to accomplish. Students quickly broke off into groups to focus on completing their projects using:
3D design using Ignite
Ignition to learn about Digital Literacy and Responsibility
Challenges included a broken wire on the Raspberry Pi, connectivity issues and the inability to edit existing work for the 3D designs but… the kids had a plan of what needed to happen next. They used a variety of strategies to problem solve, including the people in the room and online help. It was not enough to break anyone’s stride. I think of my response when learning new technologies and the exasperation. In some cases, students experiencing insurmountable issues shifted their attention to helping other students in the group with the realization that specific things would need to happen before they could get on with the project. The only prompt from the teacher required was a reminder to save their work to OneDrive before the end of the class.
A room full of Grade 6 students are well on their way to establishing the skills that will be an integral part of their lives. They will have a variety of ways to pursue their own interests and a full toolbox to pursue job opportunities. The opportunities provided in this class have been orchestrated by a curious educator who is willing to take risks in her own learning to enable her students to engage with technology in purposeful learning.