Using technology to enrich lessons in order to boost students’ learning motivation, freedom of choice and self guidance
Femke has been teaching 6th grade at primary school Klein Heyendaal in Nijmegen (NL) for 17 years. In her class children feel safe and at liberty to discuss anything with her and each other as long as it is done respectfully.
In 2014 Femke wrote a proposal to Samsung’s innovation fund for education. The main objective was differentiation. She wanted to enrich her lessons with technology in order to be able to adapt more to children's learning needs and to stimulate their learning motivation.
Samsung accepted her proposal and donated 32 tablets to the school. In addition Samsung provided some teacher training and digital content partners.
Students in the higher grades of Klein Heyendaal are used to working in a three-week-planning. All students get a scheme containing both obligated and optional tasks. Femke and her students started looking for opportunities to use technology to enrich existing tasks and started collecting successful examples of ‘tech-enriched’ learning interventions:
- After an instruction, the children have a choice whether they want to proceed to their workbook exercises or if they would rather use their tablet. For instance geography: some children work in their workbook, others make a summary or wordcloud, others create a ‘Kahoot’-quiz for their fellow students, others design an online newspaper or clipboard about the subject. The fact that students can collaborate, continue working from home, share and enrich with multimedia are some of the advantages I see in working online.
- Several apps are used to train for instance multiplication and spelling. (Bloon, Squla, tafeltrainer, WiG, 6000Woorden)
- Padlet, an online clipboard tool, is often used. Mainly to share online recourses with or between students. (http://nl.padlet.com/femkebosmans)
- Students suggested to using Minecraft in the classroom. After two students presented the opportunities of Minecraft to me, I agreed to use Minecraft worlds in arts (creating creative structures) and for instance geography (try designing a building to fit the climate and surroundings of the Northpole, or South Africa, and how are they different?)
- Students often use Youtube to search for instructional videos. For instance ‘how to draw...’- videos
- studiocode.org is used to teach the students some programming basics
- I moderate a Yurls page (http://groep8kh.yurls.net) to share resources and other educational materials with my students
The three-weeks-tasks get personalized, based on test results. Children who know their multiplications don’t have to practise these as often as others. This task becomes optional for them. At the beginning of a new three-week-period the students mark which tasks are obligated for them and which ones are optional.
In Femkes opinion, freedom of choice, stimulating the students’ feeling of autonomy is very important. The students have to learn how to plan their tasks and choose how to process them. Femke tries to give her students insight in the learning objectives, so they can check for themselves if they succeed. This kind of self guidance is also a very important skill they need when advancing to secondary education.
Sometimes a student can’t handle the freedom of choice. Sometimes I will not notice this until they fail at a test. In processing the next chapter/lesson, this student will be asked to use his workbook.
Other iCoaches and teachers often ask Femke how she does it. Where does she find the time to prepare all of these tech-enriched lessons? She states that she gets a lot of energy out of experimenting and her students’ enthusiasm. Preparing is very time-consuming. She tries to document good practises and save successful interventions, so she can use them again next year. Femke also stimulates students to create lessons for their classmates.