Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Leading the Way

Thank you technology for failing us......just this once.

The past few weeks have brought about a frenzy of craziness in the my libraries.  We have 5th graders starting some hefty research business using print, online databases, and Google Docs, and middle school students in various stages of construction on digital portfolios in preparation for parent-teacher conferences next week. Let's add to the chaos.....a bookfair in both buildings.

I spent one day literally running back and forth across the street between my two buildings and I lost count after my fourth trip to the middle school.  This week, we had the mixed blessing of Nebraska weather which resulted in two snow days in one week with a full moon.  Everyone seemed just a little off kilter by yesterday afternoon.

Not even going to mention the heavy duty discussions going on about technology, curriculum, conference presentations, and the cardboard solar panels taped to my car by my fifth grade HAL students.

With all that said, by yesterday, I was ready for the whack-a-doodle week to be OVER. I was spending the day in an eighth grade English class helping students pull together and finalize their student portfolios.  At the middle school, we have been moving toward a digital portfolio for students to use as an archive of work, goals, and progress.  It will become a living document and digital footprint foundation as they go through high school.  Our template consists of a Google Site developed last fall and students add their work, assessment information, and examples of their learning.

Yesterday, our plan was have students scan their documents and send to Google Drive for addition to their portfolios.  We had chosen an app for the scanning process and seemed to be set to start working.  For whatever reason, the app would not export....... at all.  Ok, well actually it did... like seven hours later. We had to switch gears pretty quickly and I started using my phone to scan and email students their artifacts so they could keep working.  At some point, a few students started using their devices and took care of their own documents.  And then....

I looked up and saw kids huddled together over phones, passing devices back and forth, helping each other take photos of posters they had made, kneeling on the floor next to another student walking them through the process.  In the course of constructing their own portfolios, they also reached out to their peers who were lost, unsure of what came next, or didn't have a device.  And once again, I was humbled by the power of watching kids collaborate and support each other in the learning process.

Yesterday, started out as a day of individual work on a personal archive, and ended as an opportunity to not only learn, but to teach others. Grateful I was there to witness the power of students collaborating and supporting each other.

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