My last blog post about the ISTE Standards for Students I had to choose to reflect on Standard 6 Creative Communicator or Standard 7 Global Collaborator. What a tough choice! Both standards are extremely important and given the time I would post about each, but with our quarter winding down ultimately I decided to focus on ISTE 6 Creative Communicator. The standard says “Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals” (ISTE, 2016). Within that standard there are four indicators. I chose to focus on indicator 6a with my research for this module. Indicator 6a says, “Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication” (ISTE, 2016).
During a part of our first quarter in Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership program we looked at how technology could overwhelm in place of informing teachers and students alike if it was not used mindfully, and with clear expectations and learning targets. Even in my elementary classroom students use technology almost constantly throughout the day, much like I do, whether at home or at school. With that in mind I thought that a first step for my post this module was to get an idea of what resources or tools my elementary students actually know how to use. They all use YouTube as you can see in my survey summary picture.
That didn’t surprise me based on conversations I’ve had with my class this year and in past years. YouTube seems to be prolific among elementary students. However, when I followed up with a question about whether or not students post online, I found that a relative few post content often.
So I moved on to the next part of my question. How can students use those tools to meet desired learning goals? Next, I looked for ideas of how other teachers have integrated technology into their classrooms. Since students are familiar with YouTube at home, I want to teach them how to use that resource in the classroom. It is one tool they can use to meet communication objectives. I think it is a great resource for them to use to begin to be creative communicators. I found many great articles, one from Edutopia that specifically dealt with YouTube in the classroom.
I don’t know that my students even equate YouTube as being a place where they can gain academic knowledge, so my first goal is to show them that is possible. I found a couple great suggestions for doing that in the post “Harnessing the Power of YouTube in the Classroom” by Monica Burns. In her blog post Burns suggests two great ideas for teachers who are looking to get the most out of YouTube with students. First she suggests searching within YouTube channels, like Kahn Academy or other favorites. Second, she suggests using the advanced search option when you are looking for channels based on certain keywords, (2016). Those are two first steps that could be taught to my 4th grade students, which will enable them to get more out of YouTube at school. After they see the academic uses for YouTube, I anticipate that they will want to contribute based on their own learning. Moving students from consumers of media to producers of media is another part of my goal. One additional focus is teaching them to become critical consumers of media so that they can find useful educational content on YouTube or other websites.
Getting back to ISTE 6, I think that many students would in fact choose to use YouTube to express themselves in ways related to learning goals given the chance. I also can clearly see that my students are fairly diverse in their use of technology tools aside from YouTube. The reason I asked what tools they already use, was so that integrating those tools into the learning process would be fairly simple for them. However, I also see based on the survey results that there is room for me to expose my classroom to a variety of other learning tools, like screencasting, podcasting, blogging, or Edmodo. Then they can demonstrate their ability to create or communicate in a digital environment with a tool they are comfortable with and enjoy using. For now YouTube seems to be a great choice because of their familiarity with the platform. Those other platforms and tools give me an idea of where to go after exposing students to ISTE 6, getting them familiar with the Creative Communicator standard, and getting them started using YouTube in the classroom.
In my investigation of ISTE 6 I’ve returned to some fundamental ideas that I think are important to my integration of technology in the classroom. Choice is good. I gave my students a survey so begin to see what they are familiar with, but it is nearly impossible to expose them to all of the possible platforms or resources in that way. I need to continue to engage students in conversation around their use digital media. Then through careful planning I want to integrate a wider variety of tools in my teaching and make the connections to how those tools or platforms satisfy learning goals extremely clear to students. I tend to pigeonhole myself with technology tools in the classroom. Often I use tools or platforms that I am comfortable with out of habit. Perhaps my students do the same? Careful planning can help all of us. Mindful integration is also necessary, I am aiming to transform learning and turn it back to students, not just recreate standard educational practice in a digital environment (Holland, 2017). At the elementary level I think it is important to continue to remind students that they can continue to demonstrate their learning in ways they are already comfortable with whether that is though a standard blog, a video blog, or a slide show. However, pushing students to move beyond the place of comfort and scaffolding their learning is what education is all about. I am going to begin to do that with their use of YouTube. I think the video below by artandentertainment (2012) shows how students can use YouTube demonstrate and clearly communicate their learning goals.
Artandentertainment. (2012, March 9). Audri’s monster trap. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMboI4cOAuQ
Burns, M. (2016, May 03). Harnessing the power of youtube in the classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/harnessing-power-youtube-in-classroom-monica-burns
Holland, B. (2017, February 22). Are we innovating, or just digitizing traditional teaching? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/are-we-innovating-or-just-digitizing-traditional-teaching-beth-holland
International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). The 2016 ISTE standards for students. (Standard 6 creative communicator). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016