This post was contributed by Kali Baird as the first in our series "Tales From the Field" where we'll share vignettes from real situations involving teachers, students, and edtech.
On the first day of school last year, I met a 6th-grade student I will call "Peter." He was new to our school and felt a bit out of place. Unsure of himself and not quite comfortable reaching out to make those friend connections, Peter felt how many new students feel when they start at a new school -- without a voice.
One day I put the students into pairs to work on an in-class, hands-on science project creating a model of the Earth. Part of the project was to create an iMovie to document the creation process while using vocabulary terms to reinforce and support the topics learned -- core, mantle, crust, plate tectonics, etc. Peter followed the directions, double-checked that he was on the right track, and then took off.
As this was the first time students used the iMovie app, the expected presentations ensued -- excellent for sure, but not exactly "snazzy." Until Peter's iMovie. It was amazing! He dived deep into the elements of the app and even expanded into other recording apps to create something wonderful.
By the end of Peter's presentation, students were surrounding him, blasting off rapid fire questions and comments: "How did you do that?" and "That was soooooo cool!" and "Can you show me how you did that?" In the midst of all this, Peter was calm, accepted the praise, and answered many questions. From that day forward, Peter had his voice. Technology was the key that opened the door to his new middle school environment.
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Kali Baird is the Middle School Technology Facilitator and Science Lead Teacher for 6th Grade Earth Science at San Domenico School, an independent school in San Anselmo, California. For over 20 years, she's taught various subjects to grades three through eight. As the technology facilitator, Kali works with students, teachers, and parents to integrate technology meaningfully into the San Domenico curriculum.