Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Visible Thinking Through App Smashing

I often talk with teachers about the idea that we should balance our student's screen time between consumption and production, going heavy on the production side as that is where students are able to construct knowledge from the material they have "consumed".  Many teachers struggle with the idea of students using the technology for more than just going to a single site and following a prescribed program.  Depending on the site, the prescribed program may be outstanding, but it represents only a little of the amazing possibilities available when we teach our students to use the tech tools as a way to construct new knowledge and show their thinking in visible ways.  I like to encourage teachers to think beyond the boxed programs and help students to begin to develop a whole tool box of useful tools for both constructing knowledge, sharing their understanding and even more amazing, showing their understanding in multiple ways. These tools can provide opportunities for students to ask further questions, show their understanding in a way the makes sense to them, and then celebrate that learning by sharing and collaborating with others.  Just as you wouldn't try to build a house with just one tool, we shouldn't expect our students to build  knowledge in this way.  And most likely, each of us would choose at least slightly different set of tools for performing the same task.  Students should have some choices in tool selection as well.

The idea of App Smashing, encourages teachers and students to start building a menu of appropriate tools and then choosing what they think are the appropriate tools for the learning at hand.  We might use one tool for collecting information, another tool for synthesizing that information and yet another tool for sharing the learning with others.  At first, our tool boxes might be limited and our choices to complete the task may be suggested or very similar to each other.  But as our tool box grows, so do the possibilities. 

So how to we start growing this process with limited time to teach the tools and most likely limited devices? 

One way I have seen teachers solve these issues is by creating task cards, with either an app menu or specific app suggestions for the activity.  If constructed at an appropriate level, even very young students are able to follow the task cards independently.  

Here is an example from 1st Grade Teacher Meghan Zigmond. Students learned and wrote pumpkin facts.   She then created a simple task card using the pumpkin carving app on the ipads.  The task cards included pictures that showed the student what apps to open and step by step what to do. Students saved their pumpkin pictures on the camera roll and then opened up Chatterpix. Students used Chatterpix to record their pumpkin facts.  She then published the videos to YouTube.

Based on the ideas I have learned about App Smashing and the belief that giving students choice is important, Paula Dagnon and I have built a few App Menus to help you get started doing some App Smashing of your own.  We've tried to limit our list, so that you or your students don't end up with an overwhelming laundry list.  We've also included both iPad and Web Based apps so that you can use the tools appropriate to your classroom. 

What I would LOVE to see happen is that we as teachers begin to build and share task cards for our students using apps and programs we have available in our district.  Let me know if you are interested in doing some collaborative App Smashing.

All About App Smashing

    App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. App Smashing can provide your students with creative and inspired ways to showcase their learning and allow you to assess their understanding and skills.

    App Smashing - K-12 Technology
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