Thursday, October 6, 2011

Does It Matter?

Today gave me reason to ask myself a question that I've never really asked myself before: does it matter? My students today were preparing for a Skype call with a Grade 1 class in Atlanta Georgia. This is a two-part Skype call: students in both Ancaster and Atlanta have researched different aspects of their school community and local community, and they are comparing them through their presentations over Skype. Not only was this a great way to connect with another class involved in the Global Read Aloud Project, but it also met Social Studies expectations for both Grade 1 and Grade 2. Perfect! :)

Drawing A Visual To Accompany Research

As a class today, we went over the different topics for the call, and we discussed different options for research, from a Google search to books from the library. Students also had some previous knowledge that they could add to their part of the presentation too. Each group had to record at least three facts to share, and they needed to create a visual to share too.

Researching Their Topic And Writing Down Information

I'll admit, when I planned this research project, I had one basic format in mind: students would research their topic, write down their three facts, and draw a picture to go with their topic. And this is basically how things started, but then a Grade 2 partner group that were researching on the SMART Board, asked me if they could make a presentation in GoogleDocs. I'll admit that my initial instinct was to say, "no." Hey, I love using different tools, but this wasn't what I had in mind for this project. Then I stopped to think though: does it matter? The truth is that in this case, it doesn't. I wasn't evaluating the students on artistic skill. I wasn't marking their printing skills or seeing if they could organize ideas on a page. I was assessing them on their ability to research with a group, gain facts on a topic, write notes about these facts, and later present these ideas to a group. Students could do this just as well on GoogleDocs as on paper, so why say no?

Animal Image Created In DoodleBuddy After Researching On Google Images

Just as I said, "yes," to this, another group asked me if they could use the iPad and the iPod Touches to search for images of animals in Ancaster and Ontario, and then draw these images in DoodleBuddy to share with the other class. My initial instinct was to direct them to the paper, crayons, and markers, but again, does it matter? The students are researching the animals, and they are applying what they learned to create their own. They saved their images to upload to the computer, so that we could share them with the class in Georgia. They met the expectations, so the choice of tool was irrelevant!

Today reminded me that it's important to constantly ask myself, does it matter? I want to build creative thinkers and problem-solvers, and today showed me that in less than a month, this has already happened. It's amazing to watch, and I'm so glad that I resisted the urge to say, "no," and instead went with, "go for it!"

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, "does it matter?" What were the results? I'd love to hear about your experiences too!

Aviva

8 comments:

Angie Harrison said...

Bang on again! Your constant reflectionis what pushes you forward in your teaching. We are always saying it's not a out the tool. This lesson proves it. Bravo!

Angie

Aviva said...

Thanks Angie! It's true: we do say that constantly, but it was what happened today that really made this clear to me.

Aviva

h mathews said...

Angie, you are inspiring! I'd love to do with my firsties what you are doing. I am going to follow your blog to get some good ideas! Thank you for your brillance :)

Heather

Aviva said...

Thanks so much! Glad you like the ideas here. If you have any questions about anything, please just let me know.

Aviva

Brent Catlett said...

Aviva,
I have definitely asked myself the question "Does It Matter" many times in my career in both administration, the classroom, and as a coach. I appreciate your comment about going for it and giving it a try. I think sometimes the hardest things for teachers is to let go of the "no" we want to say to them because we don't want to lose control. My thing is, even if what they want doesn't work, they tried, and they learned!

Great post!

Aviva said...

Thanks Brent! Your line about giving it a try even if it doesn't work is so important. Giving up control has been hard for me, but I'm glad that I'm saying "yes" now much more than "no."

Aviva

Barbara Caples said...

Aviva,
I'm so proud of you for recognizing each student's ability to contribute in their own way. All of us need to be better at doing that. I work with so many students who have been repeatedly discouraged over the years that they have given up trying. I think that what you just did probably saved a few students from losing their intrinsic motivation. You are a hero! We all need to ask ourselves "Does it matter?" more often!

Aviva said...

Wow! Thanks Barbara! I never really thought of it this way before, but your words will get me to ask, "does it matter?" a few more times.

Aviva