This past Monday, October 9, was a day filled with professional development for all BUSD staff. Along with my DigiTech colleagues, I had the opportunity to lead a workshop on one of our district-wide equity strategies: Bringing Students’ Lives into the Classroom. Our workshop focused on explicit ways technology can be used to ensure that both students’ lived experiences and student voice are a more prominent part of every classroom.
We started the workshop by grounding ourselves in research on the importance of bringing students’ lives into the classroom. We did a jigsaw where teachers read different articles from BUSD’s equity binder and used a virtual white board, Padlet, to share reactions & big ideas, comment on them, and connect our ideas to others’ in the room. This photo gives you a taste of how our conversation began and how fun it can be to make connections between our own ideas and those of others.
After grounding ourselves in the research we looked at student work from BUSD students using several tools:
- Google Forms to do surveys allowing for students’ self reflection and opportunities to give feedback to their teacher.
- Screencastify and Flip Grid to collect videos and audio recordings of students to increase the ways student voice and perspective are used in class
- Google My Maps and Padlet to develop classroom community by giving students opportunities to share their personal experiences and viewpoints with their teacher and classmates.
Click here to see 8th Grade Longfellow Math Teacher Marlo Warburton’s Google Form for soliciting feedback from students on her teaching.
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Here is a sample from 5th Grade Emerson Teacher Jenny Weddle’s student self-assessment survey in Google Forms. Having a student be self-reflective to the point that they recognize that their behavior fluctuates depending on how they feel when they come to school in the morning is really powerful.
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Flip Grid is a tool where students record up to 90 seconds of video and the class can view everyone’s videos on a single web page and comment. Once complete, students can decorate the screen capture of their face with virtual stickers which is a fun treat. In elementary school, practicing fluency is an important part of our literacy program Alex Hohenhaus, 5th grade teacher at Malcolm X has students choose a beat from Flocabulary, a program which teaches academic concepts through raps and song, and play it in the background as they read their current “book group” book to practice their fluency.
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Screencastify is a tool which captures audio along with your computer screen. It can be used to narrate a slide show, or simply narrate a single slide as this Emerson student does when describing her African-American hero for Black History Month last winter.
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Another tool we shared was Google My Maps where students put markers down on a world map and are able to embed an image and text to explain the significance of each marker. This mapping tool can be integrated into many subject areas, but Guillermo Nuevo, 6th Grade Humanities teacher at King, used it as a classroom community building exercise for students to share places in the world that were important in their lives.
Teachers and IAs in the workshop then had the chance to choose a tool, learn how to use it, and begin creating a project using that tool. The creativity of the ideas shared was fabulous. Here are a few (of the many!) ideas that were developed during our workshop.
- Some music teachers plan to use Flip Grid, a video tool, to let their students record themselves practicing their assigned song and get feedback from peers and their teacher on it. The beauty of this idea is that it’s so easy to re-record the video if the student listens to themselves and knows they can do better.
- A Spanish teacher wanted to use audio tools such as Screencastify and Flip Grid to have students get pen pals in a Spanish speaking country where they exchange audio messages to one another.
- A Math teacher plans to use Google My Maps for students to share what they learn about the lives of famous mathematicians of color.
- And, an English teacher plans to use Screencastify to have students record book reviews and then collect them all for a class set of book reviews that any student can access.
If you are interested in learning about any of the tools from this workshop, reach out to Allison Krasnow or Mia Gittlen to set up a time to collaborate. Bringing students lives into the classroom more regularly is such a powerful practice and there are so many ways to do this effectively with technology.