Our school is in the midst of MAPS testing, which means the computer lab is mostly off limits during this week. I have scraped together a little bit of lab time, but the break is good for the kids. They are going to camp next week, and we need some time to work on camp songs (we need both tambourines AND technology to make life happy).
But before singing camp songs together, I took a few minutes of each class to do some reflection on our Google Apps project so far. What's going well? What's not? What's easy? What's hard? Why? The answers were honest and positive. And generally, if a student said something in the project was "hard", we talked more as a class and came to the conclusion that it is hard for one (or both) of these reasons:
• Research in general is hard work
- and -
• Students are wanting to go deeper than they are accustomed to working
|Student reflections so far, collected on Linoit.com|
• Some students said they were going slower than they would normally go. But not because the technology was slowing them down - because they were collecting so much research. Some expressed frustration when they developed questions in their mind to which they could not find answers. Some wanted more sites for research. What they haven't learned is that sometimes in research, you have to draw the line and say "enough", but it's a good problem to have.
• We talked about "digging deeper" in our project. The students seem surprised at the amount of work research takes, but they remain enthusiastic about it. Like planting a large tree, research is a big project, and it takes more work to dig that hole. If you don't dig deep enough, the tree will not flourish.
• General excitement over the use of Google Apps. Everyone loves it.
Two teacher observations from this discussion:
• The comments from the students really focused on the research aspect of the project and less on the GAFE aspect. At first I was disappointed about this - but then I realized that perhaps we hit a "golden mean" at which the technology creates excitement but remains a tool.
• After this discussion, I am convinced even more that Google Apps does impact student achievement. And the comments from the students about research and digging deeper reveal that they are putting pressure on themselves to create a product that the world will see.