[Category: Before Class]
Inspiring the Uninspired with Technology
by Stacey Trow
Often sought after as though it is the fountain of youth, is the secret to inspiring children, grasping their imagination to enable them to strive towards their true potential. However much like this old tale there isn’t a magic fix that works. Each child is different, each day is different and often the engagement can be battled on a minute by minute basis. Over my career I have spent many hours challenging myself to think of every way possible to create an engaging and stimulating learning environment. These have left me with not only a bank of success stories but a whole host of failed ideas that never seemed to quite line up with the Spielbergesque vision I aimed for.
But one thing I’ve learnt is that as educators we can often judge ourselves by our pitfalls and hold a barrier up for our fear of failure. But why? We as professionals spend hours teaching children that failure is valuable and helps enrich our learning; so why do we not practice what we preach? On that note I decided to throw myself in to the treacherous area of technology. Often avoided by others; I felt as though tech could be my golden ticket to success.
After a whirlwind of communities, CPD and general curiosity I have experienced some of the most rewarding mind set shifts from both educators and children towards technology enhanced learning. Beginning with small steps such as convincing my class they were on learning TV with a portable visualiser app. To using animation for setting the hook at the start of a writing lesson. It was interesting to note how intently children would listen to an animated book character giving instructions over an adult. Even if I am wearing a shiny red cape and pitching for Miss Enthusiasm 2017.
The key to engagement is getting the balance right, you want a buzz of learning without causing children to be so elevated the focus veers off from enriched learning. The trickle effect is one often referred to and combining this with a breadth of experience/exposure to tools enables us to achieve this. Allowing children to stretch their imagination and become enamoured with the joy of learning.
However, with technology, children become desensitised and complacent. Forcing us to go back to the drawing board once more. We find ourselves exploring green screen narratives of texts, 360 photos using VR to bring visual stimulus and challenging even the littlest of learners to generate digital music and light shows for dough gym! Some of us even running to our nearest in house expert to support us with all of the above. But often missed opportunities for awe and wonder lie in the non-traditional tech routes. Tech savvy children haven’t all been exposed to UV pens for secret code, walkie talkies for interviews or simple projected environments.
In what can seem like an uphill battle in roller skates for most educators, my message to you is embrace the challenge, failures and all. Find your inner child and embrace the dark side.
Stacey is in her eighth year working within education and currently provides CPD, experience days and support to schools in the West Midlands that are looking to innovate and embed inspirational technology use across the curriculum. She has a passion for working with special needs alongside using technology to support and develop learning.
Follow her on Twitter @stacey_trow