Friday, September 4, 2015

How To Get Students Started With SMART amp

In my role as an Educational Technology Coach, I am always searching for high quality digital tools and apps that will not only assist in engaging and enhancing student learning, but will also assist in extending it; enabling students to accomplish tasks they could not do beforehand.  Too many apps have been designed like worksheets; they are pure drill or reinforcement of the content and/or skills that have been taught.  The problem with this is that although they show what students are able to "spit back" or recite, it doesn't necessarily show what they have learned, and it most definitely does not allow students to express their creativity by giving them the chance to take the content they have learned to create something new.  

We know that learning should be visible; it's important that teachers have evidence that their students are learning.  This evidence is not limited to the students' marks on a paper.  Teachers need to understand, document, and support individual and group learning in their classrooms. Evidence of student learning can - and should - include:

  • the ways the learning affects the students' social and emotional growth
  • the purpose the learning serves (what does the student gain from this and how/why it is relevant)
  • how it empowers the student  
 This is the learning that will help in preparing students to become responsible members of society.

If we want our students to become empowered in their own learning, then we need to provide them with learning opportunities through which they can do so.  This may include opportunities in which students will exhibit:

  • collaboration
  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
Are you looking for ways to spark your students' creativity?  Have you tried using SMART amp?  I am proud to say that using SMART amp can empower our students in their learning as it encourages them to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create.  By being provided with a SMART amp workspace in which which they may express their own ideas, the students are not limited and the possibilities are endless as they think "outside the box."

Here are some tips in getting students engaged in the SMART amp workspace:
  • Explain what a workspace is and how it is different from a SMART NB presentation file
  • Model the use of a workspace to create something new 
  • Allow the students to explore the various tools in the SMART amp workspace and create content on a given topic
  • Have students work with their peers in small groups to foster collaboration
  • Encourage students to present their content to the class
Based on my previous experience in grades K-8, when using SMART amp appropriately, the results of student learning will be fantastic.  It is an amazing accomplishment when students learn naturally and authentically which empowers them to learn about their world.