Learning From the Students

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 by Chris Loat

One of the best parts of being a teacher consultant is when I get to learn new technologies, new approaches, or new ideas. Although the purpose of my role is to share ideas, approaches and technologies with others in our district, I often find myself on the receiving end of this learning. It is especially gratifying when it is a student who is doing the teaching, and today at Kingswood Elementary was a time when I learned 3 different things from students.

On the iPad, the keyboard usually appears as a solid keyboard across the bottom of the screen, but once in a while, it appears as a split keyboard. I knew that in Settings>>General>>Keyboard, there was the switch for displying the split keyboard. But did you know that if you put two fingers on the solid keyboard and separate them, it will turn into a split keyboard? I didn’t until a tech savvy grade 4 showed me today at Kingswood. The opposite is true for turning the split keyboard into a solid keyboard; tap either side with a finger and then slide your fingers together.

Using the two finger pinch to turn a split keyboard into a solid one

Using the two finger pinch to turn a split keyboard into a solid one

In this same class, we were using the app ‘Pic Collage’ to document some of their art work they completed during the year. While explaining how to put text on the screen, I mentioned there were 8 different fonts. A young grade 5 girl beside me ever-so-quietly pointed out that you could swipe left for more pages of font styles. Little did I know that THERE ARE FOUR PAGES OF FONTS IN PIC COLLAGE!!! I was ever so thankful, as were the kids in her class, otherwise they would have been ‘limited’ to 8 font styles. I have shown Pic Collage on many occasions and never noticed the 4 dots below the font menu (indicating more pages). Time to start noticing a little more carefully.

Little did I know there are 4 pages of fonts in Pic Collage

Little did I know there are 4 pages of fonts in Pic Collage

Lastly, when we were cropping the photos of their artwork, some students were struggling using the scissors to clip the photo. I showed them how to crop the photo in the photo album, but one student pointed out he uses a ruler to help guide his finger when clipping the photos in Pic Collage. He placed his ruler on the screen, slid his finger along the ruler’s edge, and ended up with a nice straight crop of his photos.

photo 2

Using a ruler to make straight clips in Pic Collage

What does this tell us? That we should allow our students to explore and learn on their own. That with a little bit of guidance around the big ideas of a lesson, students will easily figure out the details. That teachers should not be afraid to learn from the students, especially when it comes to technology.

Thanks to the students and staff of Kingswood for their enthusiasm towards learning about and teaching with the iPads and making me feel welcome each week I was there.

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