“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Kids Teaching Kids

Project: Kids Teaching Kids - Tips About Technology

This semester I was faced with a difficulty. I joined an online course from TIGed called "Education for Social Innovation". As a final assignment, we would have to work together with our students on a project. I was not alone, other teachers from my school were participating and so was my buddy Doug, the other Tech Integration Specialist. The problem was that I don't have students of my own. Doug and I decided to pair up and work together on our project. We both agreed that one of the common problems we face involves the misuse of technology, and more specifically of social media, so we would like center our project around that.

We needed students, so we turned to a grade 5 teacher for help. Mr. Trujillo was happy to let us work with his kids. We scheduled 15 mins with them on several mornings. Without giving them much direction, we decided to see where the student discussions would lead us.

Day 1: We started by asking the students what kind of problems they were experiencing related with technology. During this first day of contact with this group we heard of technical difficulties, from lack of wifi or battery duration, to frustration when their parents were texting while driving.

Day 2: We tried to be a little more direct and asked about what difficulties they had with the use of technology. This time, they did mention social media issues, as we were anticipating. They seemed to not be concerned about the number of followers they had on Instagram. We tried to make them relate their online life with a common face-to-face situation, such as visiting a restaurant. What would happen if something embarrassing happened and your friends saw you?

Day 3: We approached the students by telling them what situations we regularly saw in school and although we teach digital citizenship, they seem to be occurring more frequently. We asked them what advice they could offer for dealing with the social media problems they were experiencing. They had great recommendations: Be proactive; Surround yourself with good friends - online and face-to-face; Involve parents; Have rules; Educate other kids; etc.

Day 4: How can these kids be proactive and educate other kids? After a short discussion, they thought the best idea would be to talk to the students in lower grades. What would they tell them? Think before you post; Have trustworthy followers and friends; Get parents involved; Don't be rude when online; Act as if it was the physical world; Talk about consequences; Fill your time with other things to do.

Day 5: The kids were quite excited about how they could make a difference with their schoolmates. They developed the idea to show the smaller kids an embarrassing picture of a person and have them make comments, perhaps on post-its. After a while, the real person would walk in and they would ask them if they could say the same things to their face. This idea still needs to be tweaked in order to not offend anyone, but they're enthusiastic and are on to a good start.

Day 6: By this time, the course was on it's final week. We invited the group to pitch their idea to the Social Innovation online class. A few kids represented the fifth grade group. They did a great job describing the project to the other participants and teacher.

Since the school year is almost over too, next year we will pick up where we left off and hope to implement this idea that originated in a grade 5 classroom.


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