Thursday, September 8, 2016

Empowered Learners

Last week I was working with Leanne Boddie's awesome 3rd grade class at Leon Springs Elementary. We were recording the students' sharing all about themselves for a parent night activity. I was so impressed with these kiddos! As we were brainstorming in small groups, I noticed them saying they were "Gamers" and how they love to watch Youtubers. In talking with the students more, I found out they watch YouTubers to figure out how to become better gamers. They get tips and tricks on how to create amazing Minecraft worlds. They naturally use YouTube as the awesome learning tool it is! When they have a question about something they are passionate about, they use YouTube to find the answer. They are empowered learners.
Here are some pictures of these amazing students on that day (they loved the headsets!):
In our district we will soon deploy ipads for every teacher! As an Academic Technology Coach, it will be my responsibility to provide 'iTeach" professional development to the teachers at the six campuses I serve this Fall. While I am super excited about this initiative and can't wait to begin working with my teachers, I have to admit that I've been a little anxious about not being able to provide the kind of follow-up coaching that I usually do. With 6 campuses to train, my time between training will be limited. Then it dawned on me... our students are naturally empowered to seek out their own learning on YouTube, from each other, or wherever else they can find it. I know our teachers can do the same! 

With technology, teachers can figure out how to do pretty much anything with their new iPads. This is exactly what we want our students to be able to do- to be empowered and to own their learning. When I have a question about something technology related I immediately turn to Twitter (thanks PLN!) or YouTube, if I want to see the play in the big game I missed I again turn to Twitter or YouTube. I'm excited to provide iPad training to my teachers but I'm even more excited about the opportunity to encourage them to take risks, jump into new things, and help them become more empowered as learners. I'm looking forward to jumping into some new learning myself this Fall with an #InnovatorsMindset online course (#IMMOOC). As it turns out, "You don't have to have it all figured out to move forward." Now off to YouTube... gotta figure out how to change the headlight on my truck!


  1. The identification of Twitter and YouTube as sources for impacting Effective Learning is so right on!!! But my favorite point from this post is the quote near the end, repeated in the graphic.

    I'd in fact extend the thinking. Not only does one NOT have to have things figured out in order to move forward; it is my firm belief that trying to 'figure things our' beforehand is impossible, especially for dealing with meaningful situations. Students should be mentored / facilitated to determine a probable starting DIRECTION before beginning. I'd argue strongly that this approach will lead to a better outcome more quickly!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read/comment. I totally agree with you- trying to have everything figured out in advance in the classroom makes for a very teacher-centered class. I love the idea of providing general direction in the classroom and then allowing the lesson to progress organically/authentically. Do you have a blog? Would love to read yours. :)

  2. This is such a powerful insight and so important for all of us in teaching roles to think about how we can put the cognitive load on the learner. Too often the value in teaching has been focused on how we prepare & deliver a great lesson and far too little emphasis on how the learners are engaging and deepening their understanding.

    In my experience, the more I provide opportunities for productive struggle and push teachers to figure it out on their own, the more apt they are to provide the same experiences for their students. I also think it's so powerful to share what and why you are doing to help as push through the uncomfortable times so people are aware of the learning process. Look forward to learning and connecting with you more through the #immooc!


Social Media Buttons