Low Tech Success

Margaret and I are lucky to teach in a school where we have access to a lot of technology and are encouraged to use it as much as we can, especially in new ways. The 1:1 initiative this year has meant we are finding new ways for students to organize, share, create, and collaborate using their devices. These are valuable 21st century skills, but so is being able to have a productive, face-to-face conversation!  I was reminded of this yesterday during my geometry class.

Before school, I drew several pairs of complementary and supplementary angles on plain white paper with red and purple Sharpies and taped them up all over my room, some adjacent to their partners and others across the room from their partners (and behind a trash can).

The class’s task: find all the angles, pair them up (I had numbered the pairs) and decide why some are red and others are purple.

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Tables rather than desks provide an ideal workspace

Watching my students do this was fascinating. At first, they worked alone while finding the angles, and then some started laying out their bounty on one table while others laid them out on another, but they soon realized everyone needed to be at one table. Suddenly, my whole class was standing around one of my tables (a time I’m glad I don’t have desks) having ONE CONVERSATION. After a little puzzling and disagreement, they figured out that the pairs of red angles all added up to 180 degrees, while the purple pairs added up to 90 degrees!

This experience reminded me of how important it is for my students to be able work with others through every step of a problem solving process. Devices can be a vital part of that process, but several of the skills students need to develop to be successful 21st century citizens can be honed while stepping out from behind the screen.  A good reminder as I finish out the week.

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