Lee High School senior Valeria Marin knows how to reach her classmates: snap a photo on the popular social media network Snapchat.
Texts work too, she said. But many students don’t bother to read emails.
“You can send reminders about assignments,” she told a group of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools teachers at Rebel U, the district’s annual technology professional development conference. “You could put up events for teachers or what’s going on for homecoming.”
Valeria participated in a session aimed to help teachers tap into ways to connect with students through technology in the classroom. She and other students were paired with teachers to show off classroom technology or to lead small round-table discussions about how they feel about different possibilities.
“The cart is in front of the horse. The kids are way smarter than the adults who are trying to train them, so we need to listen to them” – Jim Jensen, East Lee Campus principal
Rebel U, in its sixth year, was started to help teachers with new technologies and how to use them in the classroom, butthis is the first year a session involved students. It was one of more than 30 workshops on technology for Godfrey-Lee teachers.
“The cart is in front of the horse. The kids are way smarter than the adults who are trying to train them, so we need to listen to them,” said session leader Jim Jensen, principal at East Lee Campus, the district’s alternative high school.
Valeria mentioned that she likes the way art teacher Emily Milanowski uses technology to have students create a digital portfolio of their work, and how Spanish teacher Elayna Durso uses Google Classrooms, where she can help students with their documents in process right in class.
“They explained it and gave instructions,” Valeria said, noting that rarely updated teacher websites do her no good.
Durso said she loves using technologies like Google Docs, and it’s great to hear what students want.
“Anytime I can intrigue and get kids creating on their own, I’m all about it,” Durso said.
Improving Communication with Students
Jensen said input from students helps bridge the digital divide often seen between students and adults.
“We need to understand how the students are communicating with each other and consider embedding those ways into the classroom,” Jensen said. “A problem is that teachers don’t get communication back from students in a timely manner. If we go into their world and their language and how they are communicated with them, and increase our communication by 10 or 20 percent, that’s an improvement.”
Lee High School senior Selena Knutson said she likes when teachers use computer programs for science labs.
“It’s good for them to know how we learn,” Selena said, “To have student input will help them know how we learn, what we need to learn and how we absorb it the most,” she said.
Lee High School senior Meleny Salvatierra-Guizar presented on different tech tools she likes for class.
“It will give them a better idea about the different things students like that come up each year,” she said.