DT&L Bytes

Digital Teaching and Learning @PCHS │ October 30, 2017

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Safe Spaces Where Students Can Take Risks

As a language teacher, I always understood that it took a certain amount of vulnerability to begin to speak in the classroom: you had to create sounds that you may never had made before and you sounded funny, what would others think? It was an intentional regular practice to establish an environment where it was acceptable that we were all learning, all trying, and consistently working on improving and it was OK to speak. It often helped that I was usually the first to do or say something awkward (most of the time intentional). It was a practice that didn’t end during the first week of school, but one that became an integral component of my planning. Speaking is a natural part of language instruction, so I was creating a pallet where that could happen.


Speaking a different language was a risk, but it’s in taking risks that new skills and problem-solving abilities are developed ("Risk-taking"). It requires letting go of your comfort zone and guiding students into letting go of theirs. It necessitates an environment where it’s OK to fail and it’s understood that failure is a part of learning. Student need to understand “that making mistakes is a necessary part of learning” and “that embracing failure and overcoming fear are both a part of living well and learning even better” (Crockett). It’s the environment that we create which allows this to happen. That positive environment provides a pivotal role in learning, creates a sense of belonging, a community, increased participation and building confidence (Coaty). The result is that “students can learn and flourish in this environment because they feel empowered to take risks by expressing their unique insights and disagreeing with others’ point of view” (Gayle et al.).


Here are some suggestions adapted and modified from Starr Sackstein’s article:

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Use your as examples.
  • Admit when you don’t know something and discover it with your students. Adopt the “Let’s find out together” model.
  • Applaud the risks that students take, successful or unsuccessful. Honor the learning process.
  • Explore some tools, digital or other, that allow for a wider student voice.
  • Try a backchannel tool for increased student voice.
  • Practice your wait time.
  • Develop your own classroom parking lot for questions or concerns.
  • Review and reinforce classroom practices that promote a positive classroom community and encourage risk.


Reflection questions:

  • How do you help ensure a positive climate in your classroom? How do you establish it? How do you maintain it?
  • What do you do when something or someone violates that?
  • How do you encourage risks?
  • What do risk look like in your classroom?
  • How do students feel supported in your class?


“Kids need to understand that innovation can only happen when we move away from what has already been learned and done and with some creativity and courage, we make really make meaningful change together.” Sackstein


Resources

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Which Digital Tools are You Using?

We've had a lot of freedom at Pine Creek regarding the tools we choose to use. We'd like to continue having you, the experts, continue to be the ones choosing the tools your students use. That's why we are asking you to partner with us.


Partner with us and help us ensure your tools are approved and ready for to use when you need them. PLAN AHEAD. Visit Pine Creek's Resource List; it includes the resources submitted by you. Don't see the one you'd like to use? Visit the District database. Still don't see your resource? Fill out the Digital Tool Application and we'll get it submitted to District IT for approval. Once the tool is approved, we'll update our list and inform you. This process takes time, especially if a purchase needs to be made.


Please be patient with us and the District as we embark on this new process. The District database is continually being updated as is our own resource list. Our goal is to ensure you have the resources you need while protecting our students' privacy.


Have questions? Contact anyone of your Digital Resource Team members, Susan, Sasha or Steve.

What can your Digital Learning Coach do for you?

  • Share with you what tools we have available to you and your students
  • Show you how to use the tools we have
  • Push out course-specific apps to you and your students
  • Co-teach with you so that you can focus on the content and I can focus on the tool and any digital issues
  • Trouble-shoot issues, iPad and Desktop
  • Share our Vision and what it means as we travel down the road towards making that it real
  • Help you plan and reflect on lessons using digital tools
  • Provide Digital Citizenship tips and resources


I'm here to serve you!