Having spent some observation hours at Hathaway Brown’s middle school, particularly in a seventh-grade English classroom, taught by Leslie Coleman. The middle school is all girls, and the school is rather diverse in race and religion.
In regards to technology, each student is given an iPad on behalf of the school that they use for homework and for collaborative work, such as group projects, Google Docs, or videography and photography. Because of their iPads, the students seem to be rather connected with technology; for example, on their iPads, students tend to check their emails before class begins and respond adequately. The iPads enable the students to stay connected and to multi-task, increasing their productivity throughout the day.
Also in class, Ms. Coleman will present with PowerPoints and also use images on a SmartBoard to show to the class, accommodating to various types of learners. Moreover, the presentations are posted onto her class site online, so that students can access them on their iPads when they go home.
Outside of class, students use many of the prominent social media platforms that are used by college students and my generation of individuals. “I use Snapchat for pretty much all of my communication,” one of the students said before class. Snapchat seems to be the most-used social media platform amongst the ladies at Hathaway Brown, for as I understand it, the ladies use the platform to communicate for basic and school, administrative needs. Unlike my generation, who uses Snapchat for basic conversation with the picture option, these students tend to use the “chat” feature on Snapchat significantly more often; alternatively, my generation would send text messages.
All in all, the use of technology by the students, both inside and outside of the classroom, fosters their learning, because students are practicing their soft skills and are also reinforcing the ideas that they learned in the classroom. According to Lambert, the first step of creating a digital storybook is “owning your insights,” meaning that the thoughts of the students are to be owned by the students (54). Students are innovative when using technology to their advantage, because the technology prompts the students to think in various ways that are not always “by the books”; nonetheless, students must own their thoughts and insights when using technology to create a digital storybook.
More than anything, technology connects us to other people, and that is what I have noticed to be the biggest goal achieved through the usage of technology in the classroom with Ms. Coleman. In the example of Ms. Coleman using pictures and a slideshow to accommodate those who have various learning experiences, Ms. Coleman is making sure that all of her students can learn the material in the classroom: technology connecting people. All of the ladies at Hathaway Brown use their iPads to connect with one another, their teachers, the classes that they are taking, and the world around them.
Lambert, J. (2012) Chapter 5: Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. (4th Edition). Routledge : New York, NY. pp. 53-69.