Modeling Through Collaboration

This post is written by guest blogger Meghan Zigmond, 1st grade teacher and Technology Facilitator at H. G. Olsen Elementary in Port Aransas, Texas.

In these days of digital tools running amok in our schools, we often need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are really setting proper examples of how to use them in productive and creative ways.

I recently sat working with a fellow teacher who was asking her 3rd graders to create a storytelling project with our green screen. She was frustrated with the technology (this is why I was helping) but, also with the products the students created so far. As we looked through parts of the project, we realized that we needed to really break down the project step by step, and give the students a few more tools. We created a project outline that would be used to model each step for the students, still allowing them choice and creativity, but that would give them a more concrete path to follow.

Today’s young learners have amazing abilities, but they still need to be shown the tools and steps to create amazing things. Without modeling you can end up with some really iffy work, not the amazing products we want our students creating!

As a first grade teacher I work very hard to model creation for my students, especially through collaborative projects. In this way we can create, learn, and problem solve together. It ends up leading to some really amazing work, as well as a sense of community and pride in our projects. One way I do this is by creating ThingLinks with them. We use the tool to create a space for all our thinking (modeling how to collect information), then create using our information. Sometimes we create together, and other times individually. These collaborative projects end up paving the way for independent student research and creation later on.

Objects In Space ThingLink

Left on their own students can produce some incredible work. However, with proper modeling, not only of the tools available but the creation and problem solving process as well, student can generate some truly amazing work. Investing the time and energy into developing and modeling engaging projects with digital tools will not only pay off in our current classrooms but in the future for our students.

Supporting Premise –

  1. H. Children and youth need role models and adult guidance and connections even more than in the pre-digital era, but the role of adults is different, becoming one that is more about facilitating understanding, raising questions, and designing engaging tasks that produce learning than lecturing and instructing.

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