I set my students a task this week. They were required to present information about a certain country in any way they chose.
I gave them the following list of options:
a travel brochure
a Powerpoint Presentation
another format – please check with your teacher
I was amazed at the variety of options that the students chose. While observing these incredibly independent and motivated Year 4’s, I noticed that there were three distinct groups of students for this task:
A) Those who were going to present using something they were very familiar with
B) Those who loved to show their creativity and talents
C) Those who wanted to use something they had never tried before
All three types of students relied on technology, some more than others. It made me think that sometimes we glorify technology as ‘the be all and end all’, but we don’t actually relate it back to what our students want and what they are comfortable with.
The students in Category A were using things like Microsoft Powerpoint because they had used it multiple times before and knew that it was a way for them to get their work done without any problems or concerns. There were also other students who were wary of using technology because they had to wait too long to use the printer, or couldn’t work out how to print on a certain size piece of paper, so were content with the ‘write it out and glue it on a poster’ method.
The students who were part of Category B are the students who are always thinking outside of the box. Some of these students were making posters, with intricate drawings, whereas others were creating Powerpoint presentations with detailed transitions and animations. A few of the students who were making a Powerpoint presentation asked if they could print their slides off and make it into a book when they were finished? Sure! A combination of paper and technology, why not?
The Category C students were the ones who strive for excellence and have a deep sense of curiosity. From the list of the presentation options I gave them, I had one pair of girls sit down with an iPad for 40 minutes, opening up each iPad app and having a look at it’s tutorial. They experimented with the camera roll, inserting pictures, rotation text, add animations, voices and more, until they came to an agreement. One student created a Tellagami for his presentation but wanted it to go for longer. Once I suggested that he could insert it into iMovie, I barely saw him for the rest of the lesson! He had a book open, taking photos, looking up facts on the computer and scribbling down titles and names of things…and has produced a fabulous 8-minute iMovie about Brazil.
Even though I try to integrate a range of learning styles into my classroom, this week’s project has really opened my eyes at how important it really is. It doesn’t matter if somebody wants to present information using a poster, because chances are that some of the pictures that are glued on were found using technology and simply printed off. But sometimes asking everybody to use Microsoft Powerpoint doesn’t allow for the flexibility that our students seek out, like hand-written titles and diagrams. Having technology doesn’t mean using it 24/7. It’s not the be all and end all.