My 2018 word is "open" - here we go again.
As I take steps towards true student agency in my classroom, there are of course some struggles to work through which I am experiencing, as I am sure many other teachers and schools are at the moment.
One of these recent struggles which I have been thinking about a lot since the winter holidays is student motivation in subject areas because of technology that is considered "consumption". In other words, the use of Edtech when students aren't creating, and their motivation behind it.
My students are very motivated by apps/websites like Mathletics, Khan Academy, Epic, Math Smash, and more. The core of it is that they are motivated. They want to be engaged in these activities. They prefer the myriad of choices in Epic compared to our small set of classroom or library books which are always the same. They prefer racing other students around the world to improve their mental math skills in Mathletics as opposed to paper drills. They prefer the choice of learning activities in Khan academy where they can choose which part of the math curriculum they feel they need to focus on the most as opposed to me forcing curriculum on them. They prefer fun, game-like math apps like Math Smash as opposed to working from a textbook for review. All of these second options are available to them, but they are motivated by the technology options, and therefore they usually choose them in their weekly planning (more info below*).
My struggle: they aren't using this screen time for creation, but consumption. How much to I compromise their motivation just because they are spending time consuming technology at school? If these options are taken away, or lessened throughout the week, will their motivation to learn more in these subjects weaken? Are all of these options considered consumption if they are genuinely learning and improving because of them? They aren't sitting there playing Slitherio or Angry Birds at any point in the day. Is there some sort of middle ground where consumption as learning is still better than consumption as mindless gaming?
The struggles continue, but hopefully I am helping my students become more responsible, independent, and flexible along the way.
*In our school week, we both create and consume on the iPads and computers. In my class, part of the weekly planning is done by the students. They are currently usually choosing one 30 minute reading focused activity and two 20-25 minute math focused activities per day. On Mondays I check their timetables to ensure that iPad usage is spread throughout the week and each day. I am always shifting and shaping this experience with my students to make it better and am definitely open to suggestions of improvement to help my students.
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam