So yesterday I spent about 45 minutes observing one of our second year World Language teachers who is in our Tablet PC pilot group. He’s amazingly creative and energetic, and he’s taken to the tablet in a big way. His classroom is now like no other at our school.
I got there before the block started, and as I turned the corner to enter the room, I heard salsa music playing. When I stepped in I saw that on the big screen in front of the class he was projecting a video from his tablet of traditionally dressed Spanish dancers doing some really cool dancing. His students were milling around, many of them trying to emulate the dance moves they were watching, laughing and having a great time. There was energy in the room.
When the bell rang, he switched off the video and up on screen came a blank crossword puzzle in a PowerPoint presentation. He immediately handed the computer to one of his students, but a girl on the other side of the room said “Hey! You said I could go first with that thing today!” So he walked it over to her and she took the stylus and filled in an answer, then passed the tablet to the next student who did the same, and everyone started checking the answers against their own. When it was all filled in, he took the tablet back and did a review, erasing a letter here, an accent there. It was cool to watch.
Next, he started pulling up pictures of his students that they had e-mailed him and that he had put into the PPT. All in Spanish, he had the students identify objects in the photo and then construct sentences about what was happening. As they did, he wrote the sentences across the top of the pictures in bright colors that showed up clearly on the screen. Every student was watching.
After that, he pulled up PowerPoint slides that his students had made, and they came up and presented them as lessons on grammar or on tense or vocabulary. They were using the pen to connect ideas or fill in blanks or annotate pictures. Just a week into the school year, they were changing pen colors, erasing mistakes, drawing pictures. The teacher just kind of melted into the furniture, speaking up only to correct pronunciation or grammar. The kids were literally teaching each other. It was wild.
Unfortunately, at that point, I had to leave. But it was clear what was happening. Students were creating and sharing and loving the process. The teacher was using the technology to connect their learning, and it was their learning, not his. They were in charge.
Now the next step is to start publishing a lot of what’s happening and connecting that content to even wider audiences.
I have to say, meeting Michael Dell was cool, but watching the way that teacher and his students used technology was way cooler.