Technology is not about “replacing” learning nor teaching. Technology is a tool to make learning and teaching possible in ways that it never was before nor that we had ever imagined (Well, maybe Gene Roddenberry from Star Trek had).
I would like to share a small examples of how technology tools can enhance a learning experience by making (personalized) connections to what is being learned in the classroom, bringing in the outside world, and taking learning literally “off the page”.
3rd Graders in Florida were reading a story, called “The Symphony of Whales” by Steve Schuch.
Their teacher asked me if I would know someone her students could skype with who would make the setting of the book come a little more alive for the children. I immediately turned to my PLN on Twitter.
Sarah Soltau Heller from Port Hardy in Canada was one of the teachers who responded. We set up a Skype video conference with her class and our third graders. It was wonderful to observe the children talk with each other and compare their experiences. While the Canadian children live on Vancouver Island and often see killer whales swimming on their shores, our Florida students were able to report that we have sharks and dolphins in our waters. They also shared that Gray Whales migrate South along our coast line. Students then compared the size of whale teeth or shark teeth that can be found on our respective beaches.
The exchange did not end there. Mrs, Soltau Heller contacted me again a few days ago, to share with us two videos that the family of one of her students took from a boat ride.
Students were mesmerized as they were watching the whales videos sent from Canada. They literally jumped out of their seats as the spotted the whales’ fins and “screamed” in delight when these giants jumped out of the water.
The atmosphere in that classroom was what taking learning off the page feels like and how extending it with media can engage this generation.
I wonder how many students were talking about “their” whaling boat trip that evening with their parents?