Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. -Henry Ford
One of the best parts of teaching young children is their ability to be excited about just about anything. They still love to learn and try new things. Their eyes light up when I say we are going to do something new. They are not at the eye-rolling and teeth sucking stage (yet.) The other day, I said, “Ok…it’s time to get ready for Writer’s Workshop. I have something I want you to see.” I got fist pumps and “YESSS!” Excitement. Enthusiasm. Their reactions energize me and never cease to amaze me.
A key component to student achievement is without a doubt student engagement. Using outdated techniques, while perhaps “tried and true”, can also be seen as uninteresting or even boring to our students. Outdated tools are ineffective and inefficient. I mean, when was the last time you used an abacus to solve a math problem? If we want our students engaged, we have to use currency they understand. Just switching from hand-held flashcards to an app that teaches the same skill on the iPad instantly increases engagement. It’s fresh. It’s interactive. It’s engaging. When I have 2 students working together on a skill, they learn through interaction, shared experience, trial and error, and joint success.
Over these beginning weeks of the school year, we are getting to know each other. My students are learning classmates’ names (still!) and they are learning more about themselves and what they are capable of. In our 21st century classroom, we learn through a mixture of traditional and digital means. Whether we are using crayons, pencils and paper or iPads, Smart Boards and laptops, we know that our success lies in working together. iPads allow me to up the engagement factor and meet the various needs of my students. That is definitely worth a “high five”!
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