Well... anyone who knows me usually already knows that this is one of my passions. My background in teaching includes many years as an ICT Specialist teacher, Head of ICT or Computing, and participating in informal tech teams to up-skill or guide fellow teachers with technology use.
Most recently, in my Studio 4 team we have pushed ourselves and our students to create "wide walls" for our students. I first read about "wide walls" in Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitchel Resnick. This excerpt from chapter 3: Passion explains it like this:
"It’s not enough to provide a single path from a low floor to a high ceiling; it’s important to provide multiple pathways. Why? We want all children to work on projects based on their own personal interests and passions—and because different children have different passions, we need technologies that support many different types of projects, so that all children can work on projects that are personally meaningful to them."
Here is also a video of Resnick explaining low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls here, himself:
Technology is a great way to have wide walls... but... how do we effectively plan for these learning experiences?
As Resnick says in the video, "if we see a great diversity of projects, to us that's a sign of success." I completely agree with this statement as a generalisation for any unit. I am a believer in getting students to try things out and learn how to work things before being taught explicitly how to use a piece of technology (therefore hopefully creating some of these wide walls by opening up the platform on which they can communicate their new understandings... But I also see value in 'forcing' all students to learn one tool at the same time.
Below is a table of past experiences my team has gone through:
What we have not been doing is connecting anything to any type of tech standards. I feel the need to admit that something eats away at the back of my mind when planners are mentioned. I get it, of course. Direction is needed and curriculum needs to be "covered." Maybe it is the feeling of finality once something is inside a planner. Maybe this is why I love "wide walls" so much... the option is still there, even for me as a teacher. While (in my eyes) not pushing a certain agenda might make things feel authentic in a way, I can see how teachers who are not thinking about tech all of the time might not be on the same path. How the students would be at a detriment instead of an advantage. Our school is currently (slowly) starting to implement a broken down version of ISTE standards for students. This is not fully out to teachers yet, but thinking about how we can work these into our planners for intentional teaching of technology would be beneficial.
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