Being intentional about how students work independently or together is an important instructional strategy! Sometimes children choose, but mostly you decide… but how do you decide?
When and Why?Teams of students can use technologies to accomplish a task or to explore a concept. Doing this independently is difficult for young learners. There are a few tools or apps which are designed for 3-4 students to work together (or to compete).What kinds of activities? What kinds of technologies?In small groups students need to have a clear sense of purpose and be in teams which can work together with a similar work style and skill level. A team can also accomplish a goal if the task is divided into sub tasks. The sub tasks are divided between members of the group with others being in supportive roles. Additionally, students may self-select working in small groups, but be aware this format is challenging. How to maintain interactivity and engagement?If you have predetermined tasks and roles for each in the group you will have better engagement and interactivity. If the students have self-selected this format they MAY have a successful experience working together collaboratively, but more often the learners will find themselves losing interest or moving into parallel “play” instead.
When and Why?Learners learn more when they have to discuss, justify, defend their choices, etc. Pairs of students can also provide a forum for deeper learning due to explaining choices and decisions and even collaborating to build new understandings.What kinds of activities? What kinds of technologies?Tasks are always best when designed with a logical conclusion or outcome (product). Most technologies can work well in this format either through true collaboration, cooperation or turn-taking. How to maintain interactivity and engagement?Deciding upon pairs is important. Sometimes this is a purely social choice (made by the students themselves), but there are considerations to be made if the goal is specific task-related content or skills. Pairing students who are similar will allow both learners to reach their highest level as opposed to pairing a helper and a “helpee”. If the task ends in a concrete product (even if that is a screenshot or a paper-based task) will help students stay on task and be successful.
Sometimes called “Parallel Play”When and Why?In real science, in real business, in real world, people work on their independent tasks sharing ideas and thoughts with others, asking for feedback and suggestions, etc. This is powerful learning. This is a typical scenario in a computer lab or in a one-to-one setting. Students have their own technology and are in communication with others around them as they all work. This peer learning and sharing of discoveries is a powerful learning tool, especially when the teacher highlights for students things we particularly value – behaviors, discoveries, outcomes, etc.What kinds of activities? What kinds of technologies?Technologies which are widely distributed are best for this method. Activities are designed to be independent but shared.How to maintain interactivity and engagement?Encouraging “work talk” and group self-monitoring of progress toward goals is important. Using DAP resources is vitally important. Having goals in mind will help learners stay on task.
Managing… Gail@GailLovely.com iPads and Learners… Gail Lovely
Educational researchers andpractitioners alike assert that thepotential of new technologies forlearning is likely to be found not inthe technologies themselves but inthe way in which these technologies Gail@GailLovely.comare used as tools for learning• (Means & Olson, 1995; Owston, 1997; Valdez et al., 1999). From NCREL: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm
What creates Engagement?• Appropriate Challenge• Goals Gail@GailLovely.com
Tasks, Not Busy Work• Clearly Defined• Appropriate for the learner• Purposeful• Have a beginning, middle and end Gail@GailLovely.com
Time There ARE limits… They do not have to be: • The same for everyone Gail@GailLovely.com • Continuous • Random • Pressure Cookers
Products • May be something to save, print or share • May be something which is recorded onto paper Gail@GailLovely.com with pencil or crayon • Draw what you saw • Write down the most surprising thing