Cheryl Oakes‘ post, “When was the last time you watched someone teach a digital learner?” tells the story of my 9 year old at the ACTEM conference two weeks ago in Maine, as she learned how to use the program Animation-ish. The program is described as:
…an easy-to-use animation software program that inspires creativity and enables children to “show what they know.”
Wow I love that product description! How can you go wrong with a software tool which meets those two critical learning objectives?
In reflecting on what she observed as Sarah learned to use Animation-ish, Cheryl wrote:
Watching Sarah, I was reminded of looking at this moment through the eyes of a digital learner. How shall we teach differently for our different learners?
Sarah watched while Deb demonstrated. There were no words exchanged as Sarah drank this all in with her eyes. I watched as she observed for a few minutes while Deb modeled, then I saw her use her skills and create her own story. Lori picked out a couple of the important transitions and demonstrated them to Sarah. Sarah instantly transformed the the software and the experience into her own creation. She did not need the steps laid out for her, she did not need a worksheet to follow along, she viewed a model, created an attempt, erased, started again, and within 15 minutes she created her own story. There was no tentativeness, only trial and error, an attempt at an idea, an assessment, another attempt and then a brief reflection and satisfaction.
It is great to hear about this experience not only through Sarah’s eyes, since she told me a little about this experience after it happened, but also through Cheryl’s eyes after she observed this learning interaction. You can’t tell in this 21 second video that Sarah was excited to show off her work, can you?!
If we’re truly looking for ways to support creativity in our schools, I think there are a few things we can learn from Sarah, Deb, and Cheryl and their experiences at ACTEM.
Kids need digital tools which support creative expression.
Kids need encouragement and space to make choices in expressing themselves creatively.
Kids need opportunities to learn how to make their own creative products by observing other learners creating and sharing. A step-by-step manual and lesson plan may not be needed at all. Time to observe, listen, and be mentored is what’s essential.
Kids need opportunities to share and celebrate their creations with others.
Thanks to Deb Barrows for taking the time to teach Sarah about Animation-ish at ACTEM, and to Cheryl for engaging as a reflective observer as well as participant in this process as well. 🙂
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