Thursday, February 7, 2013

Learning is Creation

Our team has been focusing on using mantras to focus our thinking about iPads and how we are using them in the classroom as we talk about, write about, and share our experience with others.  What's mine right now?

"Learning is Creation" 

In a previous post I wrote about "creativity" being a goal of the fourth grade one-to-one program.  When I heard or saw some iteration of the above statement at the EdTech iPad Summit in Boston, I was taken aback because though I have always firmly believed in "creativity as an essential component of learning", this sounded different.   I enjoy semantic banter from time to time so I turned the phrase over a bit in my head.    It wasn't learning is creative or learning involves creativity.  It was "learning is creation"A big theme of the conference was how the expectations for students and workers and citizens are changing. With knowledge being something of a cheap commodity these days it's much less about what you know and more about what you can do with what you know.  The models of education that are about consumption of information are becoming less useful than situations where students are given opportunities to use what they know to do something innovative.

It reminds me of the contrasts made between passive and active learning. However, it is different because I can imagine situations where students look active and are being creative, but are not necessarily producing or experiencing anything novel, new, or innovative.  An engaging lesson can still place the student in the position of the consumer if they are "doing" the ideas and processes and products of someone else.  Until they are owning one of the three, they might not be creating anything, no matter how creative the result appears.   Throughout the conference and after, I really became fixated on what types of things I had been asking my students to do, why I wanted them to do them, and what they were gaining by doing them. 

Of course a parallel thought was how could the iPad positively impact what was being done in our classroom. I ruminated on what kinds of things were bring created in our classroom and my first thoughts were pretty literal. Art, of course. Writing. And then I talked to people about it and the list grew:  understanding, ideas, opinions, perspectives, processes, problems, solutions...the list goes on. 

definitely feel that iPads are revolutionizing our class's one to one program.  Moving from netbooks to iPads means that children are engaging with the available technology in much more meaningful ways and those ways really have to do with what the devices allow our children to create. Now I see creation happening when they are use Drawing Box to design maps that show their understanding of landforms and orientation:

Or Inspiration maps to create an organized flow for their research paper:

Or when designing a process to finish a project.  Using Educreations and Explain Everything we've been making screen casting videos in math to demonstrate and record procedures and solutions.  We decided not to show them how to use either program; one of our goals was for them to design a process that allowed them to meet the objectives: make a video that shows how to solve an area and perimeter problem for a chosen rectangular object.  Include a photo, text, and your voice. Good luck!

Here the process of making the video was just as important as the math concepts.   Along the way they demonstrated an ability to measure and multiply, but they also learned to work through frustrations and create solutions to apparent and surprising problems. Following our last screen casting project using Educreations a pair of students wanted to make another screencast. They heard we had a similar program called Screen Chomp.  They asked to make a screencast showing how to use it.   These two children came in at recess to work on their project for over a week.  All of a sudden they were in iMovie filming themselves using the program.  They added credits and music and then created a trailerWe started having "production and promotion" meetings to determine an audience and possible distribution channels.  They showed it to some classmates, who pointed out a few flaws, and decided to organize their feedback using a survey created in Google Forms.  Through their own initiative, they sure have learned and taught themselves a lot.  All that they needed was the space, time, and tools to bring their ideas to life.   They are now teaching themselves Keynote so that they can teach the class how to use it, and several other students have developed projects for iStopMotion videos, book trailers, and movies to promote our upcoming class play.

Learning is creation.

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