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NOW Classrooms, Grades 6-8: Lessons for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology (Supporting ISTE Standards for Students and Digital Citizen

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Part of the NOW Classrooms series.

Developed specifically for grades 6-8, this resource presents classroom-ready lessons that support the ISTE Standards for Students (formerly NET standards). Use the lessons, which focus on four essential skills (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity), to take instruction and learning to the next level through the use of technology. Each chapter includes strategies for developing authentic learning experiences and ends with discussion questions for personal reflection.

Integrate digital learning and support the ISTE Standards (formerly National Educational Technology Standards for Students or NETS):

  • Understand that real transformational change results from teaching and learning, not ever-changing digital devices.
  • Give students opportunities to exercise their voice, choice, and creativity using multimedia and digital tools.
  • Implement practical novice-, operational-, and wow-level lessons and tips for using digital tools in classroom lessons.
  • Foster digital citizenship, helping students keep themselves and their data safe online and make ethical decisions on the Internet.
  • Learn how to get students communicating, collaborating, innovating, and thinking critically in grade 6-8 classroom lessons.

Contents:
Chapter 1: Embracing Creativity
Chapter 2: Communicating and Collaborating
Chapter 3: Conducting Research and Curating Information
Chapter 4: Critically Thinking and Solving Problems
Chapter 5: Being Responsible Digital Citizens
Chapter 6: Expanding Technology and Coding Concepts
Epilogue
Appendix
References and Resources

Books in the NOW Classrooms series:

  • NOW Classrooms, Leader's Guide
  • NOW Classrooms, Grades K-2
  • NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5
  • NOW Classrooms, Grades 6-8
  • NOW Classrooms, Grades 9-12

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1 Embracing Creativity

ePub

CHAPTER
1

Embracing Creativity

Content creation is essential to the learning process. Using text, photos, audio, and video, students can easily express themselves and produce awe-inspiring work. Projects that include photos, illustrations, and diagrams capture the imagination and engage the viewer. When students have an opportunity to create a product using multiple media formats with video and audio elements to demonstrate classroom-acquired knowledge, their engagement in the task skyrockets, their interaction with the content deepens, and their learning gets enhanced. This brings their learning up to the modification level of the SAMR model (Puentedura, 2012).

In 2015, Common Sense Media—a nonprofit organization that aims to provide resources for students, families, and educators that help them thrive in the world of media and technology—conducted a study on teenage media use. It names four ways teens use technology: they (1) passively consume it, (2) interactively consume it, (3) communicate with it, and (4) create content with it. The study finds, “Only 3% of tweens’ and teens’ digital media time is spent on content creation” (Common Sense Media, 2015, p. 22).

 

2 Communicating and Collaborating

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CHAPTER
2

Communicating and Collaborating

When students do not fully engage in their learning, they work to get a desired grade rather than value the learning. When students publish for an authentic audience, students’ engagement increases, and they see the value of their learning in the real world (Burns, 2016). Working collaboratively and then publishing to and interacting with an audience outside the classroom makes the learning process real and gives each student a voice, incentivizing him or her to put more effort into editing and revising before putting work out into the world. This extra effort creates a deeper interaction with content and creates better communication skills.

These skills closely align with two ISTE 2016 Standards for Students: global collaborator and creative communicator. These standards aim to have students use technology to connect with others so they can broaden their perspective, collaborate, and work in teams. Through these connections, students can share their learning to get feedback from their peers and improve on it to deepen their own learning. This is how technology truly transforms learning to the redefinition level on the SAMR model (Puentedura, 2012).

 

3 Conducting Research and Curating Information

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CHAPTER
3

Conducting Research and Curating Information

We take it for granted now, but the Internet has had a transformational impact on learning. As long as a student has a device with an Internet connection, the Internet doesn’t distinguish between a student living in Bismarck or Boston or whether his or her district is well-funded or underfunded. But how do students (or even teachers) know the information that comes from an Internet search is reliable? To navigate the sea of information they can find online, students need to learn media-literacy skills that will help them become critical consumers. When students know how to find valid information, they can build on it to develop new ideas they can use to create innovative solutions for real-world problems.

When conducting research in the 20th century, students needed to go to a physical library where materials and resources had been pre-vetted and we accepted them as reliable. Students in the 21st century have a world of resources at their fingertips but need assistance in learning how to distinguish between false, biased, and credible information. You can facilitate this understanding by teaching students research strategies and skills they need to find and evaluate reliable sources. Students must use credible, unbiased information to conduct research, as well as automatically engage in critical thinking anytime they read or view anything online. Since anyone can put information online, students must look at information with a critical eye—for example, by validating information with an additional source.

 

4 Thinking Critically to Solve Problems

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CHAPTER
4

Thinking Critically to Solve Problems

Those who have the skills to persevere through authentic problems to find and implement solutions can greatly contribute to the world. For example, if Thomas Edison didn’t continue to try after thousands of failed attempts, we may not have the modern light bulb we depend on today (Furr, 2011). As teachers, we can prepare students to overcome challenges by blending the ISTE 2016 Standards for Students of innovative designer and computational thinker. These concepts empower them to use technology to identify problems and persevere through trial and error to implement solutions. ISTE (2016) defines innovative designers as those able to use “a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.” The standard for computational thinkers states that students must “develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions” (ISTE, 2016). These two standards go hand in hand.

 

5 Being Responsible Digital Citizens

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CHAPTER
5

Being Responsible Digital Citizens

Take a minute to google yourself. What do you find? Are the results positive, negative, or difficult to trace? Everyone leaves a trace online, although sometimes those traces are hard to suss out. Understanding your digital footprint is one component of digital citizenship. The sooner students understand that they have power to shape that footprint, the sooner they can begin to create a positive online presence that reflects their character. This carries special importance at the middle school level because at age thirteen, students gain eligibility to create social media accounts and accounts for a variety of other apps and platforms. When students view each of their online interactions as a deposit toward their online presence, it encourages them to think twice about what they post. As we educate students so they understand online interactions, we empower them to create positive digital footprints.

 

6 Expanding Technology and Coding Concepts

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CHAPTER
6

Expanding Technology and Coding Concepts

The term coding describes the multiple languages used to program computers to complete tasks. Coding’s evolution has rapidly transformed our society, changing how we develop products and services, how we build space-faring rockets, and how we interact on social media. As technology gets easier to use, the code that drives the apps and devices we use every day becomes more complex. As careers in coding grow, so too do the opportunities for students to learn to code. Taking advantage of these opportunities does more for students than merely teaching them coding language, however. When students learn to code, it teaches them critical-thinking and computational-thinking skills. By coding, students become computational thinkers, as ISTE (2016) states in its Standards for Students. In this context, computational thinking is a way of organizing thought processes to formulate a problem and find a solution that machines can understand. Coding allows students to build these skills while creating and testing automated solutions.

 

Appendix: Glossary of Tools and Terms

ePub

Appendix:
Glossary of Tools and Terms

This appendix includes a list of terms and resources we introduced and used throughout the book. Apps, programs, and websites are listed, as well as digital and academic terms that will aid you in lesson planning both NOW and in the future.

1:1 or one to one: Describes the number of technology devices (iPads, laptops, Chromebooks) given to each student in an academic setting; a 1:1 school has one device per each student

1:2 or one to two: Describes the number of technology devices (iPads, laptops, Chromebooks) given to each student in an academic setting; a 1:2 school means that one technology device is available for every two students in an academic setting; two classes may share one class set, or students may partner up to use devices

Adobe Spark (https://spark.adobe.com): A free website for designing graphics, images, videos, and webpages, with templates that make it easy for teachers and students to create projects

 

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