Monday, October 25, 2010

If you give kids a meaningful project...

they will take off with it and amaze you!

Angela Maiers dropped off a bag of tech stuff from AVerMedia for my class.  She told my students that they are to research it, learn about it, and teach her about it.  There's also a lovely contest with the company that will be an end result.

My students are so excited about this project!  We talked about how to go about it, they have divided themselves into diverse research teams based on their strengths and weaknesses, and plan to use their recesses and study halls to research.

The bag of tech includes a document camera, 4 student AVerPens, and 1 teacher AVerPen.   There's also directions for the document camera, but no directions for the AVerPens.  I haven't really given the kids any help besides showing them the company's website and being a guide in arranging times for the teams to work with the tech.

Today I was totally amazed!  Two teams had worked with the tech so far.  They'd figured out how to hook up the document camera and how to charge the pens.  I challenged the 3 teams working on the project today to really figure out how the AVerPens work.  They were getting caught up with trying to use them on the Promethean board we have in the room, so we had to talk about how the Promethean pens work just with the Promethean board.

We talked about how they needed an instruction manual for the pens.  I simply directed them to the AVerMedia website and pointed out where the manual might be.  They noted right away that on the downloads page there was also a link to software.  We had a quick discussion about what software is and they started to connect the dots! 

All three groups working on it today were digging into the instruction manual.  They got the pens working as a mouse on the computer!  I even had a student run up to the second floor to see how far the wireless signal of the pens can reach. The had some hiccups with downloading the software, but I think they'll be ready to go with it tomorrow.

This is kind of a rambling post, but it's just so exciting to see the project evolving in my classroom.  The kids want to stay in at recess to work on it.  They're in diverse teams (not necessarily with their friends) and are getting along.  They know we may not get the "prize" but have a desire to learn/play/explore.

This is a true, real life experience, with reading comprehension!  They are reading instructions and following them.

This is a true, real life experience, with writing.  The students are recording their findings in a variety of formats.  They are summarizing their work and making sure they can tell other groups what they have discovered.

This is true, real life, problems-based learning task.

I can't wait to share more as the project continues and as we record a video/commercial for AVerMedia.

What meaningful projects are you working to engage your students in?  


  1. That sounds like such fun, Becky. We really need to find ways to make as much learning as we can constructive. Be sure to update with their progress!

  2. Awesome Becky! What if all tech was introduced to classrooms this way? Has the teacher not so worried about not knowing how to use tech and kids working together to solve problems. Love it!

  3. Becky, Thank you for that post. It is amazing seeing young people work hard to figure something out and finally get it. I am a student at South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. We work with new technologies too and I'm sure I feel just like your kids when I figure out something new. It is also nice to see your students taking such ownership of their projects. That to me shows how truly motivated they are to figure out this new technology. Thank you and keep up the great work.

  4. @Mrs Tenkely,

    I think that's a great idea, but it still takes a mindset change for those who are afraid to be seen as anything less than omniscient in front of their students. Again, great idea, but it takes a growth mindset. A school full of growth mindsets would be a magical place.

  5. Ms. Becky,
    I think it is awesome what you are doing with your class. Children are amazing and are full of surprises. I think teachers should give students every opportunity for them to teach themselves. I think that is the best way for students to learn and get the most out of it.
    I'm sure this project turns out great and I will be following along with the updates.

  6. I am filled with pride as I read your post. We know what kids are capable of when we give them real-world tasks, projects that matter, and let them know their contribution is needed. But, I agree with your @russgoerand, this is a mindset shift.

    Becky, you have created an amazing environment for all your students to learn. You have demonstrated you value their input, you have given them time to explore, share, collaborate. This takes confidence and courage, and a mindset of a master learner rather than a master teacher.

    They are truly lucky to be in your room, not because of the assignment or the project, but because you believe in them as learners Kudos to you!

    And, kudos to your students! I could not be more proud! I can not wait to meet see you all again!

  7. What a great and meaningful idea! Great blog post. Your students are already winners!

  8. Hi Becky,

    I commented on your blog post called "It's the Little Things" a few weeks ago. I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class.

    I really enjoyed this blog post. We learn a lot about technology in Dr. Strange's class. A lot of times I have had to teach myself or discover how to do things myself. I like teaching myself sometimes. It is also great to have a teacher there for some guidance, as you have been to your students. Technology is such an awesome teaching tool. I have learned so much about it this semester in my EDM class. I think it is wonderful that your students have been so motivated. I also love that they chose their own groups based on their strengths and weaknesses. That is true collaboration. I am anxious to know how it all turns out! Thanks for sharing.

    I will be summarizing this comment and the last comment I left you on my EDM 310 blog. Check it out if you would like