Saturday, July 16, 2016

"You Want the Kids to be on Their Phones in Class???"

First I have to welcome you to my re-designed blog.  The teachers over at Blogs Fit for a Queen did an amazing design that I am absolutely in love with.....and they don't just design for queens, they do kings too!  I will be using this blog not only when I travel, but also throughout the school year as a vessel for discussing international education in US classrooms.  I'm excited about this new adventure!

My new blogging 'brand'

As for this post, I'd like to return to my time with the teachers.  I had exactly one week in which I was able to impart as much knowledge as I could on these teachers.  My focus this year really turned into technology use in the classroom, which was not my intention, but the teachers were fascinated when I started sharing some of the tools I use.  It's important to understand that technology is seen as a distraction here, not a learning tool.  In fact, the students on campus were not even allowed to bring their phones to the school.  My goal was to hopefully show them a different side of technology.  A side that opens their students to a world of information and engagement.  I first shared  If you don't know this site it is fantastic for collaboration.  It works the same as writing a question on a poster for students to answer and having them write answers on Post-It notes which they stick to the poster.  The difference: technological engagement and instant responses.

I had all the teachers pull out their phones and scan the QR code to get to the board for my lesson.  They were amazed at how easy it was.  Within minutes their responses started popping up on the screen at the front of the room.  It didn't take long for them to realize the value of this tool in the classroom.  In fact, during the break, they asked me to walk them through making an account so they could use it with their students.  I considered this a first success at showing them the importance of technology!

My next example of technology for the Chinese teachers was the use of QR codes as a learning tool.  I had prepared a set of math fact cards with QR codes to reveal answers.  I actually purchased them on TPT so I didn't have to recreate the wheel.

I use task cards as scavenger hunts usually, so I did the same with the Chinese teachers.  I hung them all over the room, some in hard to find locations.  At first the teachers didn't understand the need for the QR code.  They felt it was an added step.  Once I made it clear to them, though, that the QR code instilled a level of independence with the activity, they seemed to catch on.  They loved the idea of having the students complete the QR hunt and checking their work as they went, freeing them up to remediate or challenge small groups as needed.  The activity was a hit and they had yet another use of technology in the classroom that could be easily implemented.

Before I finished my week with them, I also had to introduce them to Class Dojo.  They were in awe of how easy it was to keep parents updated on class happenings.  Again, they asked me to walk them through setting up an account.

My experiences of sharing technology with Chinese educators were very important to me.  I needed to get across to these teachers that technology is the future of education.  The children in China are growing up with just as much screen time as American children.  It's what they know, it's what they want.  For the teachers to understand this and realize how many resources are out there was huge.  They left my classroom with a new understanding of technology in the classroom.

On a different note, last night we had Environmental Art Night with our high school students.  This last minute idea turned out to be a wonderful experience for the students.  In my station, they were designing a mural that showed why parks are important.  I had photos of American and Chinese national parks for them to be inspired by.

I was truly impressed with a lot of their work.  There is some serious talent in this group of kids!

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