Part of my work is helping educators partner with students to innovate learning using technology. You can see some of the cool things learners are doing athttp://innovatemyclass.org/featured. I recently had the chance to hear from school leaders about their feelings in regards to how they felt about their teachers and students who were using technology in the classroom. They explained that not only are students more motivated, engaged and excited about learning in general and writing in particular, but instruction is also changing and becoming deeper. They explained the focus on innovative and authentic publishing has resulted in the culture of the classroom becoming more collaborative.
One leader said it this way:
Using the netbooks, iTouches, Smart Pens, digital cameras, etc., never cease to amaze students and create excitement in the classrooms. It would be very hard to go "back" to only the paper and pen activities. Students and teachers see literacy in a different way.
Another had this to say:
Teachers have become more "alive" and motivated. Students with problems (especially ELLs and special education students) have improved their behavior and are more into learning because of the integration of technology. It is like day and night.
We also arranged what we call Innovation Field Trips which enable educators to visit other schools and their classroom to see how they were innovatively addressing a particular problem of practice. You can check out the Innovation Field Trips athttp://InnovationFieldtrips.org. The leaders found the Innovation Field Trips to be a tremendous learning experience. They explained that seeing strategies in action helps them understand how to incorporate the strategies back at their schools. They said that seeing activities that are coordinated, connected, and realistic brings it all together for them. It also gives people ideas for doing things in a different way in their own school. The leaders shared that it is exciting to see students so motivated and involved. They said that the experiences have been “eye-opening,” especially the focus on literacy. In particular they also felt that the debriefing sessions were great and learning-filled. They shared that because the field trips allow them to see authentic and real innovation in action it helps take away some of the pressure and stress of incorporating innovative practices back at their own schools.
One leader had this to say:
Seeing the tools being used makes me think that it is ‘do-able.’ I get ideas for my school.
Having a place to showcase and celebrate the innovative work that students and their teachers are engaging in is quite powerful. TheInnovate My Class andInnovation Field Trips sites provide a great way for any educator, parent, or student to learn from and share innovative practices.I invite leaders and teachers to share at these sites how they and their students are engaging in innovative work.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog,The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in Huffington Post, EdReformer,Tech & Learning,ISTE Connects,ASCD Wholechild,MindShift,Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.