Saturday, April 21, 2018

The A-Z of Digital Learning Problems!

Good morning colleagues! The struggle is REAL! I had such a busy week, and I'm exhausted. Luckily, I stumbled across an article talking about the A-Z problems in a digital classroom. Even though the article was only a year old, I felt like there needed to be an update. So here are MY A-Z problems of digital learning!

Applications - as teachers, we have to wade through 2 million applications available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. That's A LOT of apps. 
Building rapport - Our students, when using digital devices, will put their head down and put their face close to the screen. It is imperative that we get them to look up every once in awhile, and maybe even have them talk to each other, and to you as a teacher.
Celebration of learning - when providing praise or feedback, we have to be intentional with sharing student success. It is a little more challenging with digital devices as we don't have a way to put work on a bulletin board in the hallway. As digital teachers, we must use Instagram, Twitter, and blogs to share those successes.
Distractions - "What did you say?" It is not challenging to end up down a rabbit hole when on a digital device. It is so important to make your curriculum engaging and relevant to keep kids present. It is also essential to help students learn HOW to stay present with a device. Be a good role model - be present YOURSELF.
Engagement - a digital device is JUST A TOOL! Make your content appealing and authentic. That will keep students engaged in your class and hopefully free of distractions. 
Feedback - it can be tough to provide timely feedback. What is a better use of your time... discussing feedback with your students in class (either in person or digitally) or handing back an assignment with feedback that they'll never look at? Google Forms is so easy for providing quick feedback, especially with Autocrat and Simply Send add-ons.
Group Work - group work can be a challenge when students are working digitally. G Suite has helped the digital classroom move forward, but we still have to be on guard. Apple Classroom has recently been a lifesaver because I can see what all students are doing. Every student needs to play a role, in group work, because that will also happen as students move into the workforce. 
High expectations - no longer should we be expecting DOK 1 level work... especially when students can just Google an answer. We should have high expectations, especially when it comes to the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking). Our high expectations should also include students sharing their work with the general public.
Instant gratification - students just want everything to work, work right, and work right now. Life DOES NOT work that way, especially the internet! We have to help students move past needing everything done right now and slow them down. Patience is a virtue, and it's been learned young. 
Jargon - if we teach our students digitally, we need to understand and explain technological jargon. This also includes what's relevant to the students right now (gifs, memes, DMs, dog filter). If our students live on the internet, we have to keep up just a little.
Knowledge mastery - even though we should be moving beyond DOK level 1 activities, we still do want students to know and understand the content information. We must build exercises that use content knowledge for our students to master the topics. Memorization cannot be the only activity we use! Yes, I want my students to know what the Constitution says and means, but I also want them to understand how the Constitution affects their daily lives and how it will continue to influence them as they age!
Learning Management Systems - Which is better, Google Classroom or Schoology? Both options are fantastic depending on what type of classroom you have (or want to have) and what kind of students you have. My district pays for Schoology Enterprise, but we also pay for G Suite. I used Schoology religiously as a Social Studies teacher (for flipped learning), but now I find Google Classroom better suited for my broadcasting students. Find what works best, but know them both! Be an expert!
Managing time - I've come to realize over my 12 years of teaching that students DO NOT know how to handle their work! With digital devices, it has only gotten worse (due to so many distractions)! Helping students utilize calendars and find apps that quiet their devices can assist them in managing their time. Kids are busier today than we ever were! 
Networking - Emma Gonzalez was just another senior in high school until the school shooting at  Stoneman Douglas High School. Instead of staying quiet, she became an outspoken activist in the media. She has become a celebrity as people around the world know her name. She didn't continue to be quiet - she reached out to anyone that she could, to find her voice, and to find her purpose. Our students should be able to also network in that way, so we have to help them and support them through reaching out to strangers. This takes time but is a skill that is absolutely necessary today.
Objectives - technology can be fun and engaging, but you should also ensure that your curriculum has strong student objectives that align with state standards. Don't be a "fluffy" teacher! 
Plagiarism - two ways to prevent "piracy": 1) make your lessons un-Google-able and 2) teaching your students HOW to research. Students plagiarize when they are frustrated and have run out of time. We want students to explain their thinking, not someone else's.
Questions - Students. Have. A. Lot. Of. Questions. How can we provide help? Make video tutorials, write out explanations, make an FAQ for major projects... then put them all on a Google Site. Institute a policy - 1) ask a friend, 2) check the website, 3) ask me. Hopefully, this will help students become a bit more self-sufficient.
Rudeness - Students struggle with personal interactions with other humans. This is likely due to them staring at a screen for a majority of their day. Along with building relationships and rapport, we also need to teach students empathy and proper social interactions. Do not let students continue to be rude - model how people should be interacting with each other.
Scaffolded instruction - this is a problem that every teacher has, but technology should help support scaffolded instruction. Gone are the days where we just assign fewer problems to complete for homework. We want all of our students to understand the content, explain their thinking, and meet the same objectives. We need to, then, think of a variety of activities, using technology, that will meet their needs.
Troubleshooting - Even though we would love to assume our students are "digital natives," that myth is just not accurate. Yes, students, for the most part, know how to use digital devices, but they do not know how to use them for an educational purpose. We have to teach our students how to troubleshoot their way through a digital issue. We have to reinforce those troubleshooting techniques until our students know what to do. We cannot always fix the problem for the students!
Understanding failure - students have to be challenged to face frustration and, sometimes, defeat. Not everything in life comes easy, and students have to understand that before they are adults. We do not want our students to purposefully fail every time they try something, but they should be challenged so that tasks are challenging. We want students to be tested in a way that may cause them to fail so that they learn from their mistakes and move forward with a growth mindset. 
Video tutorials - Stop assigning homework! With the free time that you now have, design video tutorials over your top vital concepts. Put them on YouTube, or Schoology, or Google Classroom. Use Edpuzzle to build in comments and questions. Then, after this year, make another set of videos over your secondary key concepts. Start small to be productive!
Wifi - technology is not going to work at all times, so we have to be prepared for when it does not work. Does that mean we need to double plan? Maybe. Should we have the capability to think on our feet? Probably. 
Xenagogue - our students are not always prepared for living in a digital world, so we have to assume that they do not speak a digital native language. We have to believe that our students are "foreigners" to the internet and teach them as such. Never assume that the teacher before you has prepared your students for how YOU teach - educate the students that you have, right now, at this moment. 
Your students - you know your students best. Prepare them for a world not yet imagined, but also ensure that your students are getting a high-quality education. Not every great task requires technology, so sometimes you need to suck it up and use paper or provide a hands-on activity.
Zombie Syndrome - The internet is not the answer for everything. As a teacher, take a break. In your classroom, take a break. Go for a walk and enjoy nature. See what is around your school or even your community. The internet will be there when you get back. 

Thanks for reading... I'll see you next week :)

- Rachel
My Teacherspayteachers website