May 16, 2008

You should have seen these kids

I must say I was brimming with pride during the Tlt Summit. Our division presented 10 of the 60 non-commercial sessions. As one of 28 school divisions in our province and one of the smaller ones, I think this says something. I don’t apologize for bragging about the people I work with.

Because of a last minute cancellation I was asked to do an additional session. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to suggest the conveners invite Carla Dolman to do a session on her use of cellphones in the classroom. Maybe my smartest decision of the year. Carla agreed and decided to bring with her a half a dozen kids to help her. You should have seen these kids.

I wished I’d have capture it. Carla began briefly by outlining the thoughts behind the experiment to use cellphones. After about 15 minutes she paused and asked for questions. The audience of about 75 immediately began asking the students questions. “Did it change your learning? Were you tempted to use it to text or call in off task ways? Was it just a novelty? How did students who didn’t have a cellphone feel? Are you still using it for learning?” Hard, challenging, important questions. These 13 and 14 year olds handled them with a poise and sophistication that would make any teacher or parent proud. I sat back with awe and pride as they took turns, not by design, but simply as polished presenters would in responding to questions and concerns. Wow. Then Carla allowed them to share their formal presentation where they discussed the details of their learning as well as educated the audience about the language they communicate with everyday. Finally they had everyone take out their phones and begin showing them how to use bluetooth and soon they had everyone buzzing with learning as they facilitated a hands on learning experience.


While the story about cellphones is a great one itself, watching students present ideas to a real audience about something they were engaged with was another Tlt highlight. They blew me away.

Now I’m thinking about how I might get them to share their story with more people in yet another live, interactive setting. I feel a ustream presentation coming.