Choosing our own tools

Today I am incredibly happy with the progress in my science class. Some students have decided to take on the task of creating tutorials for our blog page on ionic and molecular compounds. A few students completed this in class after ensuring they were totally comfortable with the concept. Some students spent the time solidifying the concepts and reviewing material. Students who created tutorials in class choose either iPads or Livescribe pens to make the tutorials. Those reviewing concepts used pencasts, video and written content as desired.

For students who wanted to make tutorials over the weekend (with no access to livescribe pens or iPads), I told them that they could make written tutorials and include pictures of their atoms and formulas. Apparently, this wasn’t good enough for a few of my students. One has emailed me today and chosen to draw hers out using a wacom tablet she uses at home for drawing. Another couple of students surprised me by creating a voicethread and sending it to me. We have used voicethreads in class, but students have never created their own. This time they just went and figured out how to create their own. Using that tool just made sense to them.

We are officially at the point I’ve been striving to reach this semester. Students are choosing tools that work for them. Tools that are appropriate for the job. Tools that make sense based on the hardware they have access to.

I am slowly trying to build the skills to complete one of our units in an almost entirely inquiry-based way. This is a great sign that we are getting there. Students have developed the critical thinking, communication and research skills they need in previous classes and in ours. They have now had the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of tools and have begun selecting their own. Sometimes they like to shock me and come up with tools I have never even thought of. Its great.

Its crazy that two emails from students on a Saturday afternoon could be so energizing.

Thank you grade 10 students!

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