It worked!!

I just finished a lesson where my students were in the driver’s seat and… went great!  I wrote a blog recently “Need to Loosen Up” and that’s just what I did.  I was hesitant at first and went back and forth between whether or not I should just go with my lesson plan I worked so hard to develop.  After seeing my students today, I am so glad I decided to go with allowing them to explore the new program on their own. 

They were so excited and they actually looked at me with a surprise face at first.  As if to say, “You’re really going to let us figure this out on our own?”  Some students were nervous they would delete or “mess” up the program if they tapped on the wrong button, but I reassured them they wouldn’t.  After reassuring them, I sent them back to their desks, each with an iPad , and off they went, exploring every button and feature of SonicPics. 

By the end, the students learned how to incorporate their images they just saved from Google, record their voices, insert text under images, delete unwanted text, and so much more, without step-by-step instructions.  They not only taught themselves, but they taught each other.  Students were sharing ideas and their findings for a full 40 minutes….completely engaged the whole time.  Some students would get frustrated that they could not perform a certain task, but it was great to see other students take them under their wings and guide them through the program. 

Bottom line, I am so glad I gave my students this opportunity to discover the different features of this program on their own.  I could really see and hear a sense of ownership and pride from all of my students as we ended the lesson by sharing what they learned.

7 comments for “It worked!!

  1. Avatar of grantrolls
    February 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Awesome Jen!
    It’s so hard to ‘give up’ the reigns and embrace the collaborative model. The kids always amaze me when they have control of their learning. It really does free you up to facilitate and understand the kids better as learners as well. The conversations no longer flow from you and to you.
    It really allows you to ask questions to see their understanding rather than having to assess later on in a more formative model and checking off just the skills. You can see them grow and embrace their learning.

    PS – Congrats on the marathon as well!

  2. Avatar of Jeff Utecht
    February 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Awesome! So glad you let them what I call “dabble” with the program. 30 minutes of dabbling this generation will figure out 90% of a program. Funny thing is I try this with adults and they get frustrated with me for not teaching them. This generation, when it comes to technology…and I would even argue learning in general….are much more adaptive to learning on their own and figuring it out.

    Now….how do you use this same approach outside of technology and will it work?

  3. Avatar of Marcello Mongardi
    February 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hi Jennifer,
    Great post, and well done in letting go. I did the same with my 2nd grade. I gave them iPads and let them mess around with iMovie for 45 minutes, no specific task at all. By the end of the lesson they could choose a theme, insert music and sound effects, add stills, ans add subtitles and a title. Of course, some children were faster than others, but they ended up teaching everyone else. So it does work!

  4. David Warlick
    February 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Ive had the same experience, Jeff. But at the same time, I think that dabbling is a huge part of the pedagogy that we use to learn as adults. We learn how to use things and how to do things by playing with them, trying things, keeping what works and remembering what doesn’t (because it may work someplace or sometime else).

    I wonder if it’s when we’re (adults) in the student’s seat or using a tech that’s mysterious that we “want to be taught.”

    — dave

  5. Avatar of Rachel Gabbert
    February 29, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Reading this really made my day. I’ve been giving up the reins more and more, under the belief that the problem solving skills and ownership students take from activities like those far outweigh the benefits of me teaching them step by step. Problem solving skills are things they will need throughout their lives. Way to go!

  6. Julie Pyburn
    March 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

    As the students have worked it out for themselves I wonder if they’ll be more likely to remember the steps they had to take. There’s a tendency to think it’ll be quicker if we just tell the students what to do, but in the long term, if they internalize these skills, they may be able to do more with less help and they’ll have learned more about problem solving as well. Sound like an experiment worth trying.

  7. Avatar of Karen Robb
    March 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I think one reason why teachers are reluctant to let kids mess around is because, let’s face it, it get messy! Kids are either really quiet because they are so involved and engaged or they are super loud because they are engaged and involved and want to share it with everyone! Noise can appear chaotic and unstructured to some people but the beauty of it is that out of all this action comes the Aha! moment that makes it all worthwhile. The more kids are allowed to do this sort of thing, the more comfortable they will get with the process of collaborative learning. An exercise like this reinforces, to me, the importance of setting up a culture of a caring classroom community where students feel free to collaborate and take risks in their learning and sharing. Thanks for sharing your success, Jennifer.

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