Giv­ing stu­dents a voice with tech­nol­ogy sup­port

The Covington News - - EDUCATION -

In my last ar­ti­cle, I spoke about stu­dents as­sum­ing own­er­ship of their learn­ing. Re­search lit­er­a­ture calls this “stu­dent agency.” Even though this is a sim­ple con­cept, it is dif­fi­cult for most teach­ers to im­ple­ment be­cause it in­volves giv­ing stu­dents a voice over what hap­pens in their class. Tra­di­tional class­room prac­tices usu­ally in­volve the teacher mak­ing all the de­ci­sions for the stu­dent. Whereas, with a stu­dent-cen­tered class­room, stu­dents are al­lowed to make some de­ci­sions as to what and how they learn. When a teacher puts the stu­dent at the cen­ter of the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, then the stu­dents be­gin to take own­er­ship of their learn­ing.

Two of our mid­dle schools are ex­per­i­ment­ing with giv­ing their stu­dents a voice in their schools’ use of tech­nol­ogy. Each of th­ese two mid­dle schools has taken a slightly dif­fer­ent ap­proach to their use of stu­dent agency. It will be very in­ter­est­ing to fol­low th­ese two ap­proaches to see how they work. Cousins Mid­dle School is cre­at­ing a stu­dent tech­nol­ogy sup­port team in which stu­dents will help other stu­dents and teach­ers with their tech­nol­ogy needs. Veter­ans Mid­dle School is cre­at­ing a stu­dent tech­nol­ogy ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee which will help their school’s ad­min­is­tra­tors in mak­ing de­ci­sions re­gard­ing which tech­nolo­gies to buy and to use.

The fol­low­ing para­graphs de­scribe in more de­tail what is hap­pen­ing at th­ese two schools. They are writ­ten by each of the two schools’ Tech­nol­ogy Teacher Leader: Melissa Jack­son at Cousins and Ja­clyn Scott at Veter­ans. Cousins Mid­dle School by Melissa Jack­son

We are con­stantly amazed by the level of tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties that our stu­dents have at Cousins. They have proven them­selves to be ca­pa­ble of video pro­duc­tion from film­ing to a fully edited prod­uct with very lit­tle guid­ance from a teacher. In the year­book class, the stu­dents are ca­pa­ble of in­de­pen­dently upload­ing and edit­ing pho­tos, cre­at­ing page lay­outs and pro­duc­ing a year­book.

Our stu­dents’ projects, once poster boards, are now com­pleted in Pow­erPoint, Prezi, and Glog­ster, and are now pub­lished on the web. Our Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team has de­cided to har­ness this power. Se­lected stu­dents will be part of our Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team and will act as li­aisons be­tween teach­ers and stu­dents. Th­ese se­lected stu­dents will as­sist the teach­ers with the pre­view­ing of soft­ware and ap­pli­ca­tions, and with the in­te­gra­tion of tech­nol­ogy into the class­rooms while be­ing a knowl­edge-bank of re­sources. Th­ese stu­dents will be an im­por­tant part of our train­ing ef­forts and will act as as­sis­tant train­ers in the class­rooms.

Also, th­ese stu­dents will be an im­por­tant part of our “Bring Your Own Tech­nol­ogy” ini­tia­tive. At Cousins, we want to em­power our stu­dents to be change lead­ers who em­ploy their skills to in­flu­ence our school to use tech­nol­ogy ef­fec­tively. Veter­ans Mid­dle School by Ja­clyn Scott

Veter­ans Me­mo­rial Mid­dle School has started a new pro­gram called “Bring Your Own Tech­nol­ogy” in the hopes of ed­u­cat­ing stu­dents not only in how to use the tech­nol­ogy they have, but in how to safely and to cor­rectly do so. This pro­gram has been suc­cess­ful. Since our stu­dents seem to have plenty of ideas and re­sources for projects, free sites, and learn- ing on­line, our stu­dents want to share their ideas and their re­sources with our teach­ers and with our other stu­dents. Based on this fact, Veter­ans Mid­dle teach­ers’ Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team cre­ated a stu­dent com­mit­tee.

This com­mit­tee is made up of eight stu­dents; 4 eighth graders, 2 sev­enth graders, and 2 sixth graders. Th­ese stu­dents meet with the Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team and with the ad­min­is­tra­tors once a month to voice the stu­dents’ opin­ions and to show new skills and prod­ucts as they re­late to tech­nol­ogy in the class­room.

Also, stu­dents on this com­mit­tee are asked to talk with their class­mates and to bring ideas, con­cerns, and sug­ges­tions to the meet­ing. This com­mit­tee’s in­ter­ac­tion al­lows the Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team to hear from our stu­dents in an or­ga­nized way and to look at our stu­dents’ new ideas be­fore pre­sent­ing th­ese new ideas to the fac­ulty and to other stu­dents. At Veter­ans Me­mo­rial Mid- dle School, our Tech­nol­ogy Sup­port Team be­lieves that it is not only im­por­tant to get new tech­nol­ogy into the class­rooms, but for our stu­dents to take own­er­ship of the avail­able tech­nol­ogy. Con­clu­sion

Pro­vid­ing stu­dents with the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in their ed­u­ca­tion in a mean­ing­ful way is the be­gin­ning of em­pow­er­ing stu­dents to take own­er­ship of their learn­ing. It is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that stu­dents can be ben­e­fi­cial con­trib­u­tors in cre­at­ing a truly mean­ing­ful and au­then­tic learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Al­ready, other schools have heard about th­ese ef­forts at Cousins and at Veter­ans and are be­gin­ning to ex­plore how they can cre­ate their ver­sion of stu­dent agency. I will up­date you on the progress of th­ese ef­forts in a later ar­ti­cle.

Gary Shat­tuck is the di­rec­tor of tech­nol­ogy and me­dia. He can be reached at shat­tuck.gary@new­ton.k12. ga.us.

GARY SHAT­TUCK

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