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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted by on in Education Technology
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A picture is worth a thousand words

Teacher: No, no, no, no. Like this.

Student: I got it. I got it.

Teacher: No, not like that. Like this. Now do you have it?

Student: Yeah, I got it now.

Teacher: No, no, no, no, no. Look, like this. Got it?

Student: Oh yeah. Now I get it.

Teacher: Good. Now try it again. Let me see it.

Student: See, I got it. Right?

Teacher: Ugh. No, not like that. Like this. Now try again. Well, you know what, never-mind. It looks good.

Student: OK. Whatever.  

How many times do you see students and teachers frustrated because they do not understand what the other really wants? How many times do you hear frustrated teachers in the faculty room because their students do not understand how their work is supposed to look? How many times do you hear students mumbling underneath their breath that they don't understand what in the heck the teacher wants? And how many times have you been that student growing up or even that teacher when you have 29 other students you want to check on? (So much for the communication part in the 4C's.) Enter in a possible solution: iPad + AppleTV.

In my classes, I use an iPad to take pictures of several, anonymous student work examples (and the occasional selfie with the students). I then connect my iPad to my AppleTV using the "mirroring" feature. My iPad is now projected onto the board, so whatever I see, the students see. As we begin to discuss the examples, I edit the images using the ShowMe app. Students get immediate feedback on what I am looking for, but it also opens up fantastic discussions on the thinking behind the students' work. There is no guess work. There is no miscommunication.  

As a result of using the iPad, AppleTV, and ShowMe app so far this year, my 6th grade math students are more quickly understanding the "thinking" I am expecting from them. It alleviates stress on not only me, but more importantly my students. While I want them to show me their work, I am more interested in the thinking behind their work. And utilizing the iPad and AppleTV has already allowed for more in depth class discussions and greater understandings than in previous years.

I take pictures of at least three to five different student work examples. We compare and contrast them, as we work towards finding out the best way to show our work and our thinking. This also opens great opportunities for the idea of "problem finding." It is a way to champion the incorrect work and emphasize the importance of learning from one's mistakes. Students are able to easily understand learning, unlearning, and relearning through this process. 

The better I can communicate with my students, the better we can understand each other. Combining the iPad with the AppleTV has allowed me to do just that. No longer am I going back and forth with a student trying to get them to understand what I am looking for, as we both become increasingly frustrated with lack of understanding. I now have a solid, concrete way to clearly communicate to my students what I am asking from them. A picture really is worth a thousand words. 



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William Madden holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master's in Educational Leadership. His professional backgrounds includes over 14 years in education as an intermediate school teacher. In addition, his experience includes online course design, technology integration, ELA and mathematics curriculum mapping, being on his school's technology and building improvment committees, and conducting professional development. He blogs to reflect on his practice, share with others, and to continue to grow and learn as an educator to meet the needs of today's students. 

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Guest Saturday, 22 October 2016