What Can I Do?

Challenge, Technology

I’ve always tried to involve my students in the decision making process at the start of the year, but the way I have approached this has evolved.  When I was a new teacher it was about creating rules and defining consequences.  Now I focus more on what we should do to have a safe, comfortable and creative classroom, rather than all the “don’ts”.   To help my students explain specific behaviors instead of speaking generally I often ask them, “What does that look like?”,and that’s what I said today when students said class should be fun.  Their response? Projects and hands-on learning.  Even though they struggled to explain specifically what was fun about these two things (many had never been asked before to think this way), what soon became clear was that my students were really saying they want to be actively engaged in the learning.  So how can I use technology to address this desire and provide my students with some “cool” projects.

Fortunately, as I was thinking (okay surfing Pinterest) I came across this blog post discussing the use of the Mad Lips App in the classroom.  It was exactly what I was searching for, creative, hands-on, and interactive.

My Take: One of the concepts I want my students to understand is the integral role research plays in the writing process. I want to show them that research isn’t always about producing reports and essays, people who write fiction do extensive research to create authentic pieces of writing.  Inspired by the blog, I am going to have my students research a famous person from Medieval times, and use what they find to write a short monologue from the point of view of the person researched explaining a critical moment in the person’s life.  They will then record it using Mad Lips.

Why use an App?  Using research to produce a product will help students understand how a writer synthesizes information and uses imagination to breathe life into facts. Certainly, my students could simply write the monologue, but recording it teaches them about voice, and the decisions a writer makes about how to present a character.  Recording the monologue can also help students practice editing and the time limit given to record teaches precision and word choice.  Writing and recording the monologue in character also provides me with the opportunity to show students how to use research to create something new, rather than simply copy what has already been done.  Using this App also forces students to think creatively, to consider how this person would speak, what tone they would use, and how they might want others to perceive them.  Oh yeah, and it’s fun, which I realize should not be the only purpose for integrating tech, but it should be one of them, especially since that’s what my students requested.

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