Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What do you do when the tech doesn't co-operate? Facilitate!

You walk into class with your students ready to get to work. They sit down at the computers and attempt to login to their accounts. Then...it happens. The Internet refuses to co-operate. The plan for the day was to have students access their podcast scripts and work on final editing and rehearsing so that recording could begin the next time the class meets. Unfortunately, a huge storm rolled in and the Internet rolled out. There you were with over 20 students, including one new one who came in committed to the as-yet unfamiliar project...with no Internet connection. None. Zero. "Ms. R.!!! The computers aren't working!" My reply: "To be fair, the computers are working just fine, but the Internet seems to be down, yes."

"My computer isn't working."
"None of the computers are working!"

First, a brief, but important lesson. The computers ARE, in fact, working. The Internet is down. Ok, new plan.

I had the students break off into groups. One group still attempted to gather around a single computer. "We aren't using the computers today," I said. They looked stunned. For a moment. Then, they got right to work. Their task was simple. All groups would discuss their podcast topics. Each student would share with the other group members what they would discuss during their podcast.

"We don't have our script. We can't do this without our script!"
"Yes, you can. You aren't rehearsing your script. You're having a conversation. You know your topic. You can do this."

And then...

they did.

They came up with new ideas, too.

When we gathered back in a whole group setting, I called them to order by briefly ringing a bell and blowing a train whistle. They brought their chairs and gathered together. I asked, "How many of you are planning to use sound effects in your podcasts?" Answers varied. And students started to think. Differently. I played a recording I took earlier in the school year that would assist one of the groups. Other groups started planning new ideas. Ideas blossomed. It was fantastic!

Later in the day when the Internet still had trouble, the kindergarten students reviewed a map of Internet outages and discussed what their favorite things they've learned so far are before starting a writing activity: "The best thing I have learned in computers so far this year is..." And then they talked about code.org and puzzles, and all of the wonderful things they have done so far this year. As the conversation winded down and students started writing, I had a chance to think back over some of our great accomplishments of the year.

Teaching tech without the tech? It can be done. Some days dictate that it must be done. Today was one such day. And, we did it! By the end of the day, the Internet was back up and co-operating. Students resumed some of their regularly "scheduled" activities. Now, ask me which students learned something new and different when they least expected it.

Excuse me while I re-work some lesson plans for the rest of the week.

How has a tech difficulty led to great learning for your students Comment below or share on Twitter with #EdTechSuccess

No comments:

Post a Comment