As part of the Model Schools offers, we help educators learn the power of wikis, web pages and other digital media. Peter LaMoreaux of Brewster presented at Tech Expo today with several exemplars of student work. Their projects were both informative and engaging. Peter spoke about putting a “digital spin” on some classic student projects.
A primary example is a student Science Fair. Picture a traditional Science Fair. Lots of tri-fold poster boards with pictures glued to the surface. Perhaps the students use different size and color fonts for effect…now head up to Brewster. Their Science Fair includes videos, web pages and wiki spaces that are used to demonstrate knowledge of the concepts being explored. Students are not required to utilize technology but they are given the opportunity to express their learning in a way they deem appropriate.
The student projects are then posted to a Science Fair website for peer review and review by other Science teachers and administrators in the district. The audience is more far reaching than people who walk around the gym looking at the displays.
Peter also utilizes digital publishing opportunities for basic classroom assignments. A significant part of the Physics curriculum focuses on completion of labs. In his class, students are not limited to submitting a hand written lab. They can complete the lab and submit it as a wiki, web page, video or other digital media they are comfortable with.
Part of his success with digital expression is the willingness of the district to keep things open; to let the student’s publish their work for the larger audience to see. Participants of the session raised concerns of privacy and protection of the students. Peter’s response was that, if you teach the students responsible use of the tools, they wouldn’t abuse them. He has been working with students in the digital publishing world since 1999 and has not had any problems yet.
Kudos to Peter and his district for keeping an open mind and an open ability for students to reach out and share their work. Before posting this blog, I attended Marco Torres’ keynote. His story was the same and his outreach was to all educators. Empower the kids, provide them with the tools and learn to deal with those in your district who say “No Way”, Yes But” and let’s focus on the “Yes Ands”.