My placement at Cleveland Heights-University Heights High School, CHUH has been a great experience. My cooperating teacher, Mrs McDonald is an educator who truly cares about her students and wants to assist everyone in succeeding. The students generally respect Mrs. McDonald. One aspect where they lack respect is when they blatantly ignore her instructions to the point where she has to personally tell each student the instructions repeatedly. That being said, once they finally acknowledge Mrs. McDonald isn’t going to let them slip through the cracks they get to work and attempt to engage with the material being presented.
I have gotten to witness how much of an impact positively or negatively, technology can be in the classroom. First thing every class the students head to the portable laptop cart and get their designated Google Chromebook. The students log onto their class’ website that is full of hyperlinks to activities as well as going to Desmos, an online graphing calculator program that they use for all of their graphing and calculating needs. However, from this constant crutch develops a lack of personal growth. One time, as the students were working in groups and talking me through a problem they would state “Now, plug it into Desmos”. When prompted asking what Desmos did to produce that answer, they didn’t know. This overuse of technology frightens me as they move forward in math classes as their basic skills will not be internalized as Desmos would always do it for them.
Through my conversations with the students, I have come to realize their phone is an extension of their body. They have to constantly have it on them and be going through social media or communicating with their peers. Almost every day, Mrs. McDonald has to remind them to get off their devices and engage with the material which has led to conflict a couple of times. However, as this may seem like a drag to do every day I can visualize using their phone to get them engaged in the material. These students are very savvy when it comes to technology and with the right modeling can witness how technology, social media specifically can benefit their learning of mathematics. Dalton states in Multimodal Composition and the Common Core State Standards the following, “We live in a multimodal world where being an effective communicator involves composing with media” (336). Educators are incorporating technology within their classroom and the students can interact with that given technology component but are failing to offer their students the opportunity to compose with media and create something from scratch. For example, they frequently post polls on their Instagram stories reaching out to their followers for an opinion. As an educator, you can use this to your benefit as they can develop a question that’s relevant to them, have them create a poll through their Instagram and then record and synthesize their results in a mathematical context. As well, they can categorize the responses to their question in relation to the demographics of their followers. From this data, they can create a digital story discussing their question and the results in fitting graphs.
Producing these digital stories in a small group may lend beneficial to the students. Small groups are always a topic that individuals’ opinions vary on. In Mrs. McDonald’s classroom small group learning experiences are frequent and this generates mixed reviews. One student exclaimed, “I hate group work”. He followed up by explaining how it’s always one student doing the work for the entire group. I tried to articulate to this student that if all members of the group were participating equally, the appeal of group work is being able to achieve more in a short time frame and even though he may not enjoy it, small group work continues in all aspects of life moving forward. However, to have the students all participate equally it requires the students to be accountable for themselves and one another. Aside from this one indivdual, the majority of the students I talked to enjoyed working in small groups with their classmates as they benefited from the peer feedback. Dalton emphasizes this point with his claim “…part of the teaching and learning in digital designers’ workshop centers on learning how to be a contributing member of a creative partnership” (336). Incorporating digital storytelling engages small group work which leads to the students developing their ability to be an instrumental part of creating content that they can then reflect and be proud of.
Implementing digital storytelling not only gives the students an opportunity to showcase their talent with technology but captures their attention. With the component of student choice within the realms of digital storytelling, the students have their work have significant meaning to them. Gould’s findings stated in Trigonometry comes alive through Digital Storytelling supports this point. He concludes, “Almost all students were deeply engaged in their projects. The student’s motivation level throughout the project was significantly higher than what I typically observed when students solved story problems from the textbook” (Gould, 300). This notion could combat the problem that was prevalent in my observations. If the students were continuously working on their digital story they would enter the classroom and beginning working as they are excited about the content they are creating. Tying together, student’s interests, their technological capabilities and mathematical content can create more engaged students and deeper levels of learning.