At the intersection of elementary education, socioemotional development and information technology, hangs a board that exemplifies the craft of pulling together these ever-increasingly overlapping domains. It is a canvas that portrays the infiltration of the digital world into a traditionally analog space. It is a social networking edifice celebrating the proud posts of fourth grade students on Team Zion. Sentiments of family, friends, hopes, and hobbies take on a life of their own as cats, dogs, horses, teddy bears, and, yes, even super heroes!
To me, the Tagul display is a metaphorical representation of blended learning. Why?
Let’s take a look at what went in to these creations. First and foremost, this was a community building task. What better way to build empathy and understanding with new classmates than to share about what makes one special. After filling a Google Doc with share worthy status, students used their new Acer Chromebooks to navigate to Tagul.com. They logged in with their Google credentials, pasted sentences from their documents, chose a shape, hit visualize, and voila! They were rewarded with creative, digital renditions of self-describing words, which they promptly saved as .pdf files and shared with their teachers through Google Drive. With digital artwork at hand, teachers hit the printers to create a traditional bulletin board. Students then mounted their Taguls and embellished them with pictures brought in from home. Lastly, Mrs. Davidshofer, Mrs. Audet, and Mrs. Pires provided the finishing touch with the laminator and lovingly hung the enduring fourth grade memories in the hall.
Assignments such as this prosocial, technology infused, artistic grammar lesson will continue throughout the school year. Hopkins students will login to their Google Classrooms and complete a variety of blended lessons across the content areas. From the classroom to the kitchen table, they will share assignments and post to online discussions led by their teachers. Meanwhile in the physical space, that work and those conversations will continue, further emboldened by tactile stimuli and the richness of human voice and body language. As pioneering educators and students of the 21st century straddle the digital and analog frontiers, so will their learning artifacts. In fact, Team Zion’s word clouds still exist in the parallel world wide web — waiting to reemerge in a colorful representation of self on digital learning portfolios. Perhaps, one day, they will even deck the halls in their native format. Digital bulletin boards, anyone? Tagul, you’re it!
By: Stephanie Doty Technology Integration Coordinator Hopkins School @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching